Results from the 2022 Chartered ABS Annual Membership Survey

 

The 2022 edition of our membership survey covers important issues including student and staff recruitment, strategic priorities, finances and investment, and equality, diversity and inclusion. The UK business school sector is in robust health, showing strong performance for school finances and the recruitment of UK undergraduate and non-EU international students. The results reveal that business schools remain focused on student satisfaction, the mental health of both staff and students, and that research income is growing in strategic importance again as the impact of the pandemic fades. The year’s survey also includes the first ever sector-wide look at business schools’ sustainability strategies.

Highlights from the survey are provided below and the full results can be viewed here.

 

The UK business school sector continues to weather the challenges of the turbulent environment – good news for both business schools and their universities

  • UK business schools have continued to demonstrate resilience despite the extraordinary challenges over the last two years and the increasingly uncertain economic outlook. 40% of the schools who responded to the survey reported an increase in enrolments of new UK undergraduate students compared to the autumn of 2021/22 and around 60% reported an increase in enrolments of new non-EU international students at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
  • The outlook for enrolments of new EU students is less positive with nearly half of schools reporting that enrolments were roughly unchanged compared to 2021/22 and most of the remainder reporting a decline in new enrolments. However, there are signs that the worst of the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on student recruitment has now passed.
  • UK business schools continue to show robust financial health with 81% reporting increased income in 2021/22 compared to 2020/21 and for 44% of these schools the increase was significant.

 

An overarching focus on students and standards; with research income increasing in priority

  • The top four strategic priorities for business schools relate to students and the schools’ standards and standing. The top priorities were student satisfaction, student recruitment, league table position, and accreditations.
  • Similarly, research income had taken a backseat to other priorities during 2020 and 2021 but in this year’s survey the proportion citing research income as a high priority increased from 12% to 21%, albeit this is still well below the levels seen in the 2018 and 2019 editions of this survey. The areas expected to see increased levels of investment in the coming years also show some focus towards more conventional priorities such as the built estate, student recruitment, and research.
  • The survey finds that Executive Education is a core part of the vast majority of business schools’ portfolios, with 93% of the responding schools offering such provision compared with 69% in 2016. 67% also said that they had seen an increase in interest and actual collaborations with private sector firms.

 

Business schools are committed to student and staff well-being, and sustainable business practices

  • As with last year’s results, business schools are prioritising services for the mental health of students and staff in the coming years, with 70% of the schools who responded to the survey reporting either some or a significant increase in investment in mental health services for students in 2022/23.
  • The focus on sustainability is coming increasingly to the forefront of business schools’ thinking. Our survey found that 83% of the responding schools have some form of sustainability strategy in place at their school, either set by the school itself or by the university.

 

Professor Robert MacIntosh, Chair of the Chartered ABS said: “The survey results shed light on the ways in which individual business schools are responding as we emerge from the very significant disruption that the pandemic wrought on our education and research activities over the last two academic sessions. A clear focus on the equality, diversity and inclusion agenda is also shown in this year’s results”.

Discussion

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