Annual Survey results: UK business schools forging ahead despite Brexit impacts

Business schools are building partnerships across Europe and globally as access to EU research funding and academic staff decreases.

Our 2018 Annual Membership Survey has revealed that increasing numbers of UK business schools are seeing a decline in the availability of EU research funding and academic staff. However, the survey shows that whilst the absence of a Brexit deal is having a worsening effect, business schools have been planning ahead and are building new ties both within the EU and globally.

15% of business schools have experienced a decrease in access to EU funding, compared to only 6% of schools in 2017. At the same time, 13% have experienced a decrease in the availability of EU research partners, more than double that (5%) in 2017. Business schools are also experiencing increasing difficulty with the recruitment and retention of EU staff. Nearly a fifth of business schools (19%) reported a decrease in the retention of EU staff, compared to 16% in 2017. Additionally, 17% are seeing a decrease in the recruitment of EU staff.

Download the survey here.

For those schools that have not reported any adverse changes, many anticipate them to occur within the next 12 months. Most business schools (55%) believe that the number of student applications from EU countries is likely to decrease, with 15% already experiencing such a decline. In contrast, one-third (33%) of business schools expect to see an increase in applications from non-EU students, with 6% already seeing this.

Professor Simon Collinson, Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools comments: “Business and management research has wide ranging impacts on socio-economic wellbeing and helps to raise the UK’s productivity and competitiveness. Business school research has the potential to realise the Government’s Industrial Strategy and yet funding from UK government has decreased 17% since 2012. This has increased business schools’ reliance on EU funding so, in the absence of a Brexit settlement, the survey results are very concerning.”

With UK funding sources in decline and no assurances that UK universities will be able to continue to access EU research funds, nearly two thirds (61%) of business schools have already adopted, or are likely to adopt, a strategy to identify new research collaborators inside the EU. At the same time, the percentage of business schools reporting that they are likely to identify new research collaborators outside of the EU has more than doubled from last year (38% compared to 16% in 2017).

Business schools are also exploring new avenues to expand their teaching activities. Increasing numbers of schools are building closer ties within the EU, with 29% now offering dual awards with EU schools, compared to 18% in 2017.

Professor Collinson concludes: “Business schools are intrinsically global institutions and whatever the result of the Brexit negotiations, they are being proactive and developing strategies to maintain their global ties both inside and outside Europe. The UK has a world class reputation for education, and it is vital that we continue to collaborate closely with all global partners, and welcome international staff and students with minimal barriers.”