Call for nominations: Chartered ABS Apprenticeships Committee

The Chartered Association of Business Schools is seeking new members for our Apprenticeships Committee.

17th July 2024

International Students

Why are international business students important to business schools and the UK as a whole?

International business students help to create a global culture on campus, enhance the UK's soft power abroad, and make vital financial contributions to universities and the economy through their student fees, off-campus spending, and related job creation.

Approximately one in three of all international students in UK universities study in a business school. There are 181,330 international business school students from outside the EU studying in the UK. 86% of full-time postgraduates on business courses are international students from outside the EU.

Based on estimates from HEPI the 2021/22 cohort of international students in UK business schools will contribute £6.4bn in off-campus spending during the period of their studies (this does not include tuition fees which generate a substantially higher economic impact), an increase of 42% compared to the 2018/19 cohort.

Our members' views on current policies

The Graduate Route post-study work visa should be protected

  • It is important that the UK visa system supports universities in attracting international students if the UK is to continue to benefit from the soft power and economic value that they bring to the country.

  • We are very concerned that the Government has commissioned the MAC to review the Graduate Route. The Graduate Route is an important part of business schools' offer to prospective students, and any regressive reform will affect our ability to compete with other nations with more attractive offers for global talent. CABS will be making a submission to the review.

The ban on visas for dependents should be removed or MBA students should be exempt

  • The government’s decision to ban visas for dependents of students risks prospective international students deciding against studying in the UK, either because they are unable to bring family members or simply perceive the atmosphere to be unwelcoming. International education is one of the UK’s most successful exports and the dependents ban offers the opportunity for competitor countries with more accommodating visa regimes to increase their market share at the expense of the UK.

  • The UK business school sector is internationally renowned and has more triple accredited schools than many competitor countries for international students. Its MBA programmes, often studied by older students who are more likely to have children, are highly respected, with the MBA programmes of four UK business schools occupying the top ten in the QS European MBA rankings.

  • We recommend that exemptions from the ban on dependents are introduced for certain types of business & management programmes such as the MBA, so that the UK can continue to attract and benefit from high calibre students, their international connections, and the skills they bring which enhance the UK’s productivity and growth potential should they choose to stay with a Graduate Route visa.

PhD students and early career researchers should be exempt from the skilled worker route salary thresholds

  • Business and management PhD students are a vital pipeline for nurturing and recruiting talented early career researchers. Many are paid less than the new £38,700 threshold to be introduced in April 2024. 

Improvements are needed in processing visa applications

  • Many of our members are reporting that student visas are incurring processing delays and are not being handled in the agreed timeframe of three or eight weeks as per the government guidance.

Data on international students in UK business schools

Our analysis shows: 

  • There are 181,330 international business school students from outside the EU studying in the UK.

  • 37% of all non-EU students studying in the UK are on a business course.

  • 38% of all non-EU postgraduate students studying in UK universities are studying in business schools.

  • 18% of undergraduates studying business are from outside the EU. This increases to 23% when EU students are included.

  • 70% of full-time postgraduates on business courses are international students from outside the EU. This rises to 73% when EU students are included.

  • Our Annual Membership Survey in 2023 uncovered signs that the international student market is becoming more challenging for UK business schools. Although nearly half of the responding schools reported higher enrolments for non-EU international students in 2023/24, one-third saw a decline, which is an increase relative to the 2022 survey. Moreover, 44% of the schools fell short of their recruitment targets for non-EU students.

  • 98% of respondents said that their parent universities were reliant on income from postgraduate international students, highlighting the risk posed to the wider sector of any reduction in business school income.

Useful links and resources

Read our latest Research & Analysis

Research & Analysis International

Analysis of international student enrolments in January 2024

Read our analysis of international student enrolments in January 2024 which reveals a decline in the intake of international students.

28th February 2024
Research & Analysis Apprenticeships

Bridging the gap: How business schools are building pathways to success through degree apprenticeships

Explore how business and management apprenticeships provide social mobility and lifelong learning for all ages and for communities with lower participation in higher education.

12th February 2024
Research & Analysis Leadership

Results from the 2023 Chartered ABS Annual Membership Survey

13th November 2023
Research & Analysis Leadership

National Student Survey 2023: Results for Law

4th September 2023
Research & Analysis Learning & Teaching

National Student Survey 2023: Results for Business & Management Studies

17th August 2023