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Three quarters of UK business schools report falling enrolments from international students

28th February 2024

A new report published by the Chartered Association of Business Schools has revealed that international student enrolments have significantly declined in UK business schools, with the sector pointing to the government’s immigration policies as a cause.

Recruitment of non-EU international students has been especially impacted by the downturn, with enrolments for the January 2024 intake being 76% lower for the responding schools compared to 12 months ago.

These results compound a mounting downwards trend first revealed in the Chartered ABS Annual Membership Survey last November which found that nearly one-third of schools saw a fall in postgraduate enrolments of non-EU international students in the autumn 2023 intake.

The outlook for recruitment from the EU is also concerning with 41% of schools reporting lower enrolments.

Business school Deans are concerned about the perception that the UK is now perceived as a hostile environment for international students, with nine out of ten respondents agreeing that recent government policy announcements were having an adverse impact on their school’s ability to recruit international students. The ban on dependents, delays to visa processing and the forthcoming review into the Graduate Route were commonly cited.

Respondents point to a fall in international students further undermining the financial sustainability of some universities, with several of the respondents saying that some programmes might become financially unviable if the current trend persists.

Professor Robert MacIntosh, Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools and Pro-Vice Chancellor for the School of Business and Law at Northumbria University, said:  

“These latest results show the potential for the government’s immigration policies to severely damage one of the UK’s most successful exports. The decline in international business student enrolments will limit a vital source of universities’ income which underpins the cost of teaching and research across subject areas far beyond business and management.”

“Whilst we support a robust and fair student visa system, regressive policies on international students puts universities’ financial sustainability at risk at the very time when they are responding to rising costs and falling real-terms fees from UK students. Not only is our international prestige and soft power abroad under threat, so too are the jobs and the local economies which thrive around our great universities.”


Download the full report here