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The EU referendum has has had a significant impact on EU student decisions

The impact of Brexit on universities has been drawn into sharp focus, as one in six business schools report an increase in the number of EU undergraduate applicants not turning up to start their studies for this new academic year, according to new research.

A survey by the Chartered Association of Business Schools shows that the increase in absences is despite a majority of business schools receiving an increase in applications from prospective EU students prior to the EU referendum.

With business schools so important to university finances and local economies, as well as to the government’s renewed emphasis on commercialising research, the impact of falls in admissions could be felt across the higher education sector and into the economy if this result is an indicator of what is to come.

In 2015 there were 36,215 students from the EU studying business and management. With each student spending on average £21,833 each year on university fees and off-campus in their local area, these business students alone contribute nearly £800 million to the economy.

Brexit hits universities, despite increased applications

Since the EU referendum, 10 per cent of business schools have already lost research partners or shelved planned bids for EU research funding.

A third of business schools expect to lose planned research funding from the EU and EU research partners within the next 12 months. 7 per cent of schools have already lost valuable EU staff and 12 per cent are reporting difficulty in attracting international talent from the EU.

Professor Simon Collinson, Birmingham Business School and chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, asserts that students from both the EU and beyond positively influence the cultural diversity of our campuses and, once graduated, help the UK to build soft power around the world.

Collinson continues, ‘Generating an average income of £33 million each year, business schools are in effect multi-million pound businesses with tremendous export value and inward investment capabilities yet the Government is choosing to turn away our customers in pursuit of immigration targets which are economically flawed.

‘Business schools are working hard to adapt to challenging conditions. Many are diversifying their provision to adapt to a challenging market and the changing demands of employers. A fifth of business schools are already offering higher apprenticeships with a further two-fifths planning to do so.’

Anne Kiem, chief executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, thinks that the government  must now recognise the impact Brexit will have on business schools.

She says, ‘We can’t change the outcome of the referendum but we need a good deal for universities from Brexit. We need to work with government on a solution that will allow our student populations to thrive, our internationally renowned research to continue to make impact and our local areas to benefit from those investments.’

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