An update from our CEO

The Chartered ABS has launched into the new academic year with gusto: a bustling office indicative of a critical period in the economic and political cycle and an exciting new calendar of events and development programmes on offer for our members.

It has been an active month, during which I have had the privilege of visiting several of our members across the UK. Our senior team and I look forward to continuing these visits throughout the year.

October has provided further opportunity for stakeholder engagement at the Conservative and Labour Party Conferences, where Barney Roe, Deputy CEO & Director of External Relations, and I were pleased to be able to represent the Chartered ABS and the Small Business Charter. The objective of this engagement work is to ensure that the winners of the next general election embrace the value of business schools in their policy making. I set out the positions we have been taking on some of the key concerns of our membership below.

Conversations have been held with ministers and sector stakeholders including: Kevin Hollinrake MP, Under Secretary of State for Enterprise and Markets (who we look forward to welcoming at our Annual Conference this November); Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Business Secretary; Rushanara Ali, Shadow Small Business Minister; Darren Jones, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Skills Minister; and many of the sector bodies across higher education and business.


International students

Following the Government’s decision to restrict visas for dependents of international students, we have been working to demonstrate the vital contributions to universities and the economy international business students make.

Our research shows that 1 in 3 of all international students studying in UK universities are studying in a business school and that 70% of postgraduate students are international and most likely to be affected by the dependent ban. Research by HEPI has shown the financial benefits from international students to be £41.9billion.

We wrote to the Home Secretary, the Chancellor, and other members of the Government’s front bench, as well as to members of the shadow ministerial team calling for exemptions from the ban on dependents to be introduced, so that the UK can continue to benefit from the international connections and expertise of post-experience students which are vital to the UK’s economy and soft power.

We will continue to work alongside Universities UK, AMBA-BGA and other bodies on this campaign and it would be great if you could support our work through dialogue with your local MP. To join the Chartered ABS in its response to new restrictions on student visas, you can contact your local MP.

You will find more about the impact of these new restrictions and our response to government here


Degree Apprenticeships

The Chartered ABS strongly supports continued investment in Management Degree Apprenticeships. Our economy needs them because they raise productivity through improved management practice. We share the concern of our members around the delay in the review of the standard for the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship and we are acutely aware of the unfair criticism that management apprenticeships have faced from the press and policy makers.

At the Conservative Party Conference, it was encouraging to hear degree apprenticeships described as the “jewel in the crown” of apprenticeships. At the Labour Party Conference we heard of their plan to turn 50% of the levy into a growth and skills fund where employers will have more flexibility on the usages of this portion of their levy funds.  It is important to note that they are still working on the detail.

Whoever leads the next government, reform in this area is looking increasingly evident and it therefore forms a key part of our advocacy programme. The good news is that we have already started, through conversations with key stakeholders and politicians, and working with our Apprenticeships Committee, to ensure that management degree apprenticeships feature in a reformed apprenticeships and skills landscape.

We will be publishing analysis to support our advocacy campaign early next year, so please do share any data and case studies that you believe will strengthen our evidence base.


Learning and Teaching

On 12 September, the Office for Students (OfS) published its first quality assessments. We wrote to the OfS in May 2022 about their approach to inspections which targeted business courses. Many of you will be feeding into our first meeting with Jean Arnold, Deputy Director, Regulation at the OfS on 17 October when Robert and I will take forward messaging around the quality assessments and their recent contextual report on the business and management subject area.


Small Business Charter

Barney and I were very proud to fly the SBC flag at the Conservative and Labour Party Conferences and at many meetings across the summer.

The conferences provided a fantastic opportunity to speak with ministers, shadow ministers and key business bodies about the role the SBC and accredited business schools have in supporting the growth and productivity of our economy. I am delighted at how positive the reaction has been.

We are able to use the Help to Grow: Management Course and its precursor, the Small Business Leadership Programme, as great examples of business schools working with government to drive growth and productivity through improving management practice within SMEs. We will continue to make this point to ministers and shadow ministers in the lead up to the next general election to ensure that the next government continues to utilise business schools, through programmes like Help to Grow: Management, as catalysts for economic growth across the UK.


Needless to say, our sector faces a number of economic and political headwinds, but I also see opportunities for us through our great reputation and the connections we continue to build. We are fortunate to have a membership that is highly collaborative and very engaged in our work. Our ability to convene and build our collective voice is vital at this stage of the political cycle. Please continue to engage and reach out to us on these and other issues you are facing. We are here to support and advocate on your behalf.

I very much look forward to connecting with many more of you in the coming months and hope to see many of you at our Annual Conference this November. We have a fantastic line-up of speakers and I anticipate we will share many valuable discussions about the growing impact of our world-leading business schools.