How are business schools faring through COVID? Our Annual Survey Results

This year’s survey focused on how business schools have responded to the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic. The results reveal that at the start of this academic year many business schools have shown a promising degree of resilience to the huge challenges posed by Covid-19 on student recruitment, teaching, finances, and operations. However, the findings reveal greater uncertainty for the year ahead.

A summary is provided below, and the full survey results are available here.

Student enrolment

Our survey provides one of the first national insights into student enrolment figures. For many institutions, student numbers are perhaps not as bad as feared earlier in the pandemic. 81% of schools reported stable or higher enrolments of undergraduate students from the UK, and 84% reported stable or higher enrolments of UK postgraduate students. Nearly a fifth saw a decline in UK students and, as anticipated, enrolments from the EU and further afield have been more greatly affected.

For the next academic year, 40% of business schools are anticipating challenging targets to increase the number of international students next year.

Teaching

In response to the challenges of teaching and supporting students during the pandemic, 92% of business schools say teaching has become a higher priority and 16% of schools have shifted academic recruitment towards teaching, despite a recruitment freeze on academic staff in 45% of schools.

Award gap

The survey findings reveal that business schools are focused on identifying and addressing award gaps amongst different student cohorts. BAME students are a high priority for the sector, with 75% of the responding business schools focused on addressing the award gap for this cohort. Students from widening participation backgrounds and those with a disability are also areas of focus.

Finances

Business schools have shown they remain a key pillar not only of campus life, but also university finances. The average percentage of net income contribution to the parent institution in the financial year of 2019/20 was 56%, and for three-quarters of the schools the net contribution ranges from between 31% and 70%.

61% of the business schools participating in the survey saw an increase in income relative to 2018/19, and 18% reported relatively unchanged income. However, with the potential of ongoing impacts of Covid on student recruitment, particularly from abroad, 50% of schools are forecasting a decrease in revenues next year

Anne Kiem OBE, Chief Executive of the Chartered ABS said: “These results reflect the enormous effort our members and all their staff have put in to getting this academic year up and running. Whilst there will be uncertainty about what lies ahead, UK business schools can be proud of how they have kept teaching going for their students, and how their research and business support, through initiatives such as the Small Business Leadership Programme, are contributing to our recovery from the deep impacts this pandemic has had on our economy and society.”

Discussion

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