Business student numbers increase by 12% as enrollments outstrip all other subjects

  • Figures driven by 33% increase in enrolments by non-EU international students.
  • Number of Indian students overtakes Chinese in reversal of long-term trend.
  • Chartered ABS calls for greater Government “clarity and stability” on inclusion of international student numbers in immigration figures


Business and management has again proven to be the most popular field of study for international students enrolling at UK business schools.  A new report from the Chartered Association of Business Schools (Chartered ABS), using the latest HESA data, shows that the total number of enrolments in business and management courses rose by 12% between the academic years 2020/21 and 2021/22. The number of UK domiciled students enrolling in business and management also shows a 5% increase.

The figures also reveal that enrolments from non-EU domiciled students recorded a year-on-year increase of more than 44,000 students, or 33%. As a result, non-EU international students now comprise 37% of enrolments in business and management with enrolments from the EU domicile seeing a significant decrease of more than a quarter at 27%.

In a reversal of a long-term trend, India surpassed China as the country with the most international students enrolled in business and management in the UK, comprising 28% of the total international student market, followed by China at 24%.

Enrolments from Nigeria grew significantly (426%) in the two-year period between 2019/20 to 2021/22, from 3,455 to 18,190. Nigerian student numbers have increased following the 2019 launch of a new UK international education strategy in which Nigeria was listed as one of five high-priority countries which were to be the focus of recruitment efforts.

Within the UK, only England recorded an increase in enrolments for business and management, with Scotland, Northern IreIand, and Wales all decreasing. Business and management accounted for 60% of the total increase in student enrolments from England.

The Chartered ABS analysed data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), including the HESA Student Record & HESA Student Record (AP), 2019/20 to 2021/22. The data was extracted from the Heidi Plus Online Analytics Service and the analysis undertaken by the Chartered Association of Business Schools in April 2023.

Commenting on the research findings, Professor Robert Macintosh, Chair of the Chartered ABS and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Business and Law at Northumbria University, said, “The university sector benefits hugely from international students in everything from the diversity and outlook in our classrooms to the financial benefits to both universities and the economies in which they sit. It is great to see a 33% increase in our business schools.

“Clarity and stability in government policy terms is vital because students make their decisions over where to study over an extended period. I would urge the Westminster government to separate the issue of international student recruitment from the wider issues surrounding net migration targets. Failing to do so runs the significant risk of damaging the university sector and undermining what should be seen as a real success story.”


Postgraduate trends

The research also revealed that 92% of the increase in business and management enrolments came from the Non-EU International domicile at postgraduate level, with non-EU International students comprising 70% of all postgraduate business and management students as of 2021/22. In contrast, EU students make up only 3% of the total postgraduate market.


Please click here to read the full report. 


For further details, please contact Nick Parker at