Foreign Enrollment Sags at U.K. B-Schools

Posted by: Alison Damast on January 24, 2012

Last April, we wrote a story that asked whether new, more stringent U.K. visa regulations would have an impact on international enrollment in the country’s top MBA programs. It turns out the answer is yes, according to a Financial Times story. Enrollment is down 10 percent in the U.K. at the 16 full-time MBA programs participating in the Financial Times’ 2012 rankings. Foreign students make up the vast majority of most U.K. MBA programs, with often more than half of the MBA class made up of students from outside the European Union.

The new visa regulations - which revoked the generous provision that allowed foreign students to remain in the U.K. for two years after graduation and look for a job — may be partly to blame for the dip in enrollment, the article suggests. Business schools lobbied against these new stringent immigration reforms last year, and were able to broker a better deal for their students with the U.K. government. For example, business school students are exempt from the cap on Tier 2 skilled-workers visas as long as they are hired in school or shortly afterwards, and receive a starting salary offer above £20,000. However, it seems that may not have been enough to persuade potential MBA applicants that coming to the U.K. to study wouldn’t be a risky move.

In an Association of MBAs survey conducted last January of 47 accredited business schools in the U.K., 97 percent said they believed continued restrictions on student visas was likely to affect their enrollment numbers. Today, it appears some of their worst fears are coming true. London Business School expects applications from the U.S. and India to fall this year, while the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School is “bracing for a fall” in applications, according to the article.

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