Brexit blamed for rise in foreign student ‘no-shows’ at top business schools

EU students are increasingly likely to choose other European countries for their studies, business school leaders warn, as top UK schools face up to 20 per cent increases in student ‘no shows’

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EU students are failing to turn up for their studies this term as a result of Brexit, UK business schools have warned.

One in six UK business schools has reported an increase in the number of “no show” undergraduate students for the 2016–17 academic year, with some institutions reporting a rise as high as 20 per cent.

This is despite an increase in the number of applications from EU students overall prior to the referendum in June.

The figures, revealed by the Chartered Association of Business Schools, suggest a negative reaction towards Brexit, which some academic leaders say will continue to the detriment of business schools and the higher education sector in general.

Simon Collinson, chair of CABS and dean of the University of Birmingham’s business school from 2012–16, said he believed there would also be a “decline in applications” from EU students, and suggested that part of the reason has been the “push-back culturally” against EU nationals in the UK since the referendum.

He told Times Higher Education:“[These students] applied before Brexit, fully expecting it not to happen, and I think the European students seem to see an end to [the label of] ‘European’ and [a growing anti] ‘foreigner’ sentiment in the UK.

“There’s a cultural perception ... which is a major issue for us.”

Not only would the UK miss out of “top-class” students in the short term, he added, but the UK’s reputation as an attractive option for international students and staff may also be affected in the long run.

“Immigration laws are starting to shut out talent and starting to push some of our faculty to go and look for jobs abroad because they’re finding it easier to have a base in another country,” he said.

“It’ll hit the European faculty flow initially ... but if it continues to be problematic for non-EU [academics to work in the UK], we’ll get the worst of both worlds.”


The dean of Lancaster Unversity Management School said applications for next year had fallen by more than 20 per cent.

Earlier this year a survey of international students found that almost a third were less likely to study choose the UK for their studies in the wake of the Brexit result.

On top of increased tuition fees and the rising cost of living for students, former business secretary Vince Cable has also warned that university will become more expensive as a direct result of Brexit.

As a result, education leaders have seconded that European schools outside the UK have become a much more attractive option to EU and many UK students, with institutions in cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam offering courses at a fraction of the price of British universities. 

Dennis Vink, programme director of the International MBA at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands, said he expected there to be an increase in applications to his institution in the wake of Brexit.

“I would believe the business schools of the more stable northern European countries like the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries will be attracting more and more students in the future, in comparison with those in the UK,” he said.