Call for nominations: Chartered ABS Apprenticeships Committee

The Chartered Association of Business Schools is seeking new members for our Apprenticeships Committee.

17th July 2024
Opinion Leadership

Flora’s April roundup

11th April 2024


Flora Hamilton

CEO, Chartered Association of Business Schools

By the time we got to the Easter break, it was clear to all that business school leadership teams are finding themselves once again in a new world.   

Our Annual Membership Survey back in November hinted that the heyday of high levels of international student recruitment was possibly coming to an end. The confirmation landed loud and clear in our January intake pulse check where a survey of 50 deans reported that 77% of the schools experienced lower enrolments for non-EU international postgraduate students, with as many as 60% experiencing significantly lower enrolments. Conversations at our Professional Managers Annual Conference on 27 February echoed these statistics with an outpouring of real examples. There was no doubt that the immigration policy changes of May and July 2023 are having their impact.  

The business school sector finds itself at the mercy of a long waiting game until the next election when ‘politics are trumping policy’. The 2020 International Education Strategy has been forgotten as the political advisers point to immigration policy being a vote winner  

Business schools recruit a third of the UK’s international students, so the financial sustainability, or to put it differently, the ability to deliver high levels of net income to the university, is now seriously challenged.     

To further explore the challenges we face in the market for international students, we are launching a new taskforce and are seeking to appoint both academics and non-academics. Please find out more about the taskforce and how to apply here.   

The resetting of our priorities by Council in early March is timely – they went live on our website this week. 

It is paramount that our first focus is on supporting your financial sustainability. The new Policy Committee is up and running and working very hard on your behalf to raise our advocacy game and have our voice heard in the key conversations. On the current issue - the review of the Graduate Route - we have written to Professor Brian Bell. We are hearing that the Migration Advisory Committee - with no time for proper consultation - are keen to hear from business school deans. Some of you could be invited to engage; if you are, please let us know so that we can support you in landing the key messaging.   

Whilst immigration policy seems all-consuming at the moment, we continue our work on degree apprenticeships. The collaborations we are building with large employers, the CMI and others, will be vital as the next government, whatever the outcome, is predicted to make significant changes here.    

Our second priority, to celebrate 10 years of the Small Business Charter, serves as a vital reminder to the next government of the value our SBC schools actively play in improving SME performance. We are now in year four of the Help to Grow: Management Course, and it is crucial that we build further on the success of this programme and make this last year of the initial funding an outstanding example of successful government policy.    

We will continue to explore new ways to support you in these two priorities and your input will be invaluable. Please expect more pulse checks so that we are live to your situation (these will be designed to take no more than five minutes of your time), and please keep the conversations flowing, reach out to us at any time to share your observations, insights and experiences. We will be at the LTSE conference on 14/15 May in Birmingham and then on 22 May we are in Stirling for our Scottish Deans meeting. Your inputs are key to sharpening our messaging so that we can effectively raise your voice and be part of the debate.