Chartered ABS statement on speculation that the UK Government may reduce international student numbers

Following speculation that the UK Government may look to cut international student numbers, Professor Robert MacIntosh, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business and Law at Northumbria University and Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, said:

"We are alarmed by speculation that the government is considering cutting international student numbers. Reducing the total number of international students studying in the UK, or creating a system whereby visas are only given to those studying at so-called elite universities, will be hugely damaging to universities, and at a time when the sector is already facing, along with the rest of the UK, high energy costs, the cost of living crisis and several consecutive years of industrial action.

"One in three of all international students in the UK study in a business school. They spend £4bn annually off-campus in our communities, and their course fees significantly contribute to university finances as a whole. With, on average, 58% of business schools’ net income being contributed to their parent university, cuts to international students could be catastrophic not only for the business schools that teach them but also for other parts of the university sector. The viability of many other disciplines which rely on revenues generated within business schools would come into question impacting domestic students.

"Universities are big institutions, anchor tenants in their regions and beyond, and a force for good both in social mobility and in stimulating our nation’s innovation. The wider economy has shown that stability is needed to enable long term planning and investment and universities need stability of policy to deliver effectively. Undergraduate fees for domestic students have been in real-term decline since a modest uplift in 2017. The current high rates of inflation will further erode their value yet fees themselves are unlikely to be reviewed for some time. Abruptly cutting off the income, relationships, diversity and soft power of international students seems short-sighted in the extreme."