British schools are very much open for business!

The visa and immigration issues highlighted in the recent media coverage around London Metropolitan University and the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) have understandably raised concerns within the international student community.

Students have been protesting outside of the UK Home Office and the UK Government is deep in talks of how to prevent this happening again and to question how it could have happened in the first place. 

Now is the time to reassure international students that British business schools and universities are still very much open for business and indeed keen to maintain and foster links with students from around the globe.

As befits the area of study in the global era, a third of business and management students come from outside the UK, and a quarter from outside the EU.

In 2008/09 students from over 200 different countries came to the UK to study business and management from Azerbaijan to Zambia, with students from China, India, Nigeria, Germany and France the most numerous. There are also over 1,000 students from the USA studying business and management here. UK business schools and departments of management are clearly providing an education that is attractive and relevant to students from across the globe.

“ABS as an organisation has been involved in lobbying government on behalf of our members...we will be raising our concerns and recommendations via a publication soon to be launched at the party conferences”

The economy has faced major, indeed unprecedented, challenges over the past year. The ongoing crisis in the Eurozone, the recurring problems in the financial sector and the deleveraging by the government, by companies and by individuals have combined to create an almost perfect economic storm. Business schools in the United Kingdom have not been immune from this storm.

The graduate employment market is challenging, corporate investment in management development has shrunk, and public research funding has declined. For the business school community these challenges have been compounded by policy changes which have impacted significantly on the operations of individual schools and their parent universities. Although radical changes in the undergraduate fee regime are the most high profile of the policy changes, the impact of immigration policy and the reconfiguration of the regional economic development infrastructure have had at least as great an impact. 

Respectively these latter changes have damaged business schools’ ability to attract the brightest and the best students to the UK in the face of intense international competition and disrupted – it must be made clear that international students are a vital part of any universities programmes, enriching the student mix, bringing experiences and cultural insight to bear. 

The overseas presence has also enabled UK business schools to internationalise the culture on campus, a hugely important benefit.

It is unfortunate that university students have become entangled in the way immigration has become a subject of debate in the UK. Immigration is a vital electoral issue, all these issues are being discussed at high level within the UK Government, but in the meantime students from all around the world should not be put off by coming to the UK to study, we would encourage students to keep the UK at the top of their list of chosen study destinations.

The UK offers word class research, learning and teaching facilities with eminent academics within its business school community, you as an international student are very much welcome to our country and our globally renowned education system.

ABS as an organisation has been involved in lobbying government on behalf of our members (over 110 UK business schools) and discussing these issues with our stakeholders, we will be raising our concerns and recommendations via a publication soon to be launched at the party conferences, the document: Business Schools Seizing the Future will shortly be available from our website.

Details of all our members can be found at: www.associationofbusinessschools.org and a business and management course directory will soon be launched giving you access to our members courses.

Remember, the UK wants you!

Twitter: @Londonabs
Paul Marshall
Chief Executive
Association of Business Schools

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