Written evidence submitted by Association
on MBAs (SV49)|
- Of significant concern to the business school
sector is the proposal seeking to ensure that students return
overseas upon completion of their courses.
- There is consensus among business schools that
restrictions on the opportunity to work will impact enrolment
figures, as prospective MBA students will be drawn to programmes
in competitor countries with more favourable employment regimes.
- International MBA students are highly skilled,
highly paid professionals who bring specialised global business
knowledge to the UK.
- Alienating future global business leaders from
UK business programmes poses a high risk of medium to long term
consequences to the UK economy.
- Accredited business schools undergo intense scrutiny
by the Association of MBAs in order to attain accreditation status;
their high standards ensure confidence that only the most experienced
and qualified students, and those least likely to abuse the Tier
4 system, are allowed to enroll.
- The MBA is an extremely expensive degree, both
in terms of tuition fees and lost income resulting from students
leaving lucrative jobs for the duration of their studies. Choosing
to study in the UK represents a deep commitment on the part of
the student, and this level of study should be differentiated
from blanket definitions of student.
1. If the UK is sincere in its wish to attract
the "brightest and best" to its universities, then this
should be coupled with an awareness that international MBA students
make significant contributions to the British economy due to their
specialised skills, languages, knowledge and advanced education,
as well as the revenues they create for UK universities and the
wider economy with fees, housing and other living expenses.
2. The Association of MBAs accredits 47 MBA programmes
in the UK. These business schools embrace the highest standards
of education and undergo rigorous assessments of quality by teams
of independent assessors. In 2008, they enrolled 4,406 students
from outside the UK and Europe. This is a small, select cohort
representing the most elite applicants from around the world.
The impact of MBA enrolment on overall UK migration figures is
small, and the Association requests that the government differentiate
them as "highly skilled" or "preferred status"
3. UK business schools consistently rank among
the best in the world, with 10 in the top 50 Financial
Times Global MBA rankings for 2010. Maintaining
this reputation for excellence is key for the continued success
of our postgraduate business programmes, and requires the ability
to attract and retain the highest quality business professionals
to its programmes.
4. MBA students have no recourse to public funds
for tuition fees, which range from £10,000 to £50,000
per year. This is a significant investment of resources which:
(1) does not attract the type of migrants which the coalition
government is seeking to deter from entering and abusing the student
immigration system, and (2) nets a high level of income for UK
universities at a time when they are struggling for funding. In
a recent survey of 2,000 alumni conducted by the Association of
MBAs, 50% of respondents self-funded their MBAs, 32% had company
sponsorship, 10% used a bank loan, 1% used redundancy packages
and 7% reported "other" or used a combination of the
above. MBA students are a financially secure student population,
and there is little to indicate in these figures that international
MBA students pose a threat to public services or funds.
5. The average age of students graduating from
Full Time MBA programmes in 2008 was 30; from Part Time programmes
it was 35. Before embarking on an MBA, a sample of MBA graduates
worldwide in 2010 reported that 16% were already employed as senior
managers, 34% as middle managers and 27% as junior managers. 5%
were at board level or above and an additional 5% were independent
consultants or self-employed. These individuals were already on
advanced career paths and studied on the MBA with a desire to
learn and engage in global business education. Their network of
employers and contacts are of tremendous value to the UK economy,
especially considering that 73% report that they would consider
starting their own company or entrepreneurial venture. International
MBA students are of substantial value to the UK economy in the
medium to long term and their loss would be a deterrent to potential
future investment and enterprise. Far from being an immigration
risk, international MBAs return to their countries in most cases
as powerful ambassadors for the UK. If we lose this goodwill,
the longer-term impact on the UK's overall competitiveness will
6. The Association of MBAs surveyed the 47 accredited
business schools in the UK in early January 2011. Of the 34 who
responded, 97% said that they believe continued restrictions on
student visas are likely to impact their enrolment numbers in
the future. Of these, 56% said that the impact was highly likely.
This supports deep concerns voiced in focus groups among business
schools that prospective students will look elsewhere to competitor
countries including Canada, the United States and Australia. Additionally,
English-language MBA provision is increasing in emerging markets
worldwide, as is general MBA provision, particularly in India
and China which are two of the UK's biggest markets for international
students. The UK must do all it can to remain competitive in the
highly skilled business education sector; turning students away
by restricting their access to post-study employment puts their
reputations at stake and threatens future viability.
7. 82% of the accredited business schools in
the UK who responded to our survey reported that international
students form a significant part of their revenue. Schools estimated
that in the last 12 months, their loss of revenue due to current
visa restrictions ranged between £20,500 (one student) to
£680,000. Given that there were 4,406 international MBA students
in the UK in 2008, that represents an average of 94 international
students per business school. The risk of dwindling numbers will
have a devastating impact on UK universities and the industries
In closing, the Association of MBAs is aware of and
appreciates the government's need to assess the impacts of migration
on the UK. However, the focus on student immigration and the blanket
restriction of visas across the entire student population poses
significant risks to the UK's ability to remain competitive in
global education and business. We urge the government to recognise
that there are different categories of international students.
Each contributes something unique to the UK economy, and each
also warrants different bureaucratic approaches when determining
what level of work students and graduates are entitled to in the
MBAs are a small, select, highly specialised and
post-experience cohort. Given the enormous contribution that MBAs
make to the British economyboth in the short term in fee
income and contributions to the local economy, and in the long
term as future partners for British industry and potential investors
in the UKwe are sure that it is not the intention of government
to introduce measures that could have a devastating impact on
what is in effect a vibrant and valuable export industry.