International Students

Approximately one in three of all international students in UK universities study in a business school. They help to create a global culture on campus and make vital financial contributions to universities and the economy through their student fees, off-campus spending, and related job creation.

The number of internationally mobile students has increased dramatically in the last five years and the UK is quickly losing it's market share. In March 2011 the Government announced its policy to tighten visa regulations for international students seeking to work in the UK after graduation. Evidence shows this policy, and how it is perceived by prospective students abroad, has had a negative impact on business schools’ ability to recruit international students from a wider number of countries. Coupled with increased competition for international students from other countries, namely Canada, Australia, and Germany, the decline in non-EU students also has a detrimental effect on university finances and the regional economies around them.

The Government has, however, recently announced a proposed reversal of visa policy to reinstate the two-year post-study visa for international students. This change is welcome and we are keen to see it take effect and improve the policy environment for business schools and their students.

The Chartered ABS continues to lobby the government, on its own and in conjunction with other bodies, including Universities UK, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Students. Our efforts are primarily focused on advocating for immigration reform and a visa system which supports our world class universities' ability to attract international students.

  • International students are included in the net-migration target, which the UK Government has declared should be reduced to tens of thousands.
  • The Government also declares that there is no ambition to reduce the number of international students coming to the UK, but compared against their policy the message is confusing.
  • International graduates are required to have found an employer within four months of graduation who is willing to offer them a graduate job with a salary of at least £20,500 and to ‘sponsor’ them.
  • Students who want to set up a business in the UK can apply for a ‘Graduate Entrepreneur’ visa and will need their university to ‘sponsor’ them. However, they are prevented from setting up their own enterprise whilst they are studying.

Using the latest official statistics, our analysis shows:

  • There are 105,500 international business school students from outside the EU studying in the UK
  • 31% of all non-EU students studying in the UK are on a business course
  • 34% of all non-EU postgraduate students studying in UK Universities are studying in business schools
  • International business school students from outside the EU contribute an estimated £5.6bn to the UK economy
  • One in five undergraduates studying business are from outside the EU. This increases to one in four when EU students are included.
  • 73% of full time postgraduates on business courses are international students from outside the EU. This rises to 82% when EU students are included.

The statistics above are calculated using the latest Student Record data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) for the academic year 2018/19. The economic contribution is estimated using Universities UK's and Oxford Economics' formula for calculating the economic contribution of international students, available here.

Useful Links

The Migration Advisory Committee

Exporting Education UK, part of Independent Higher Education