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Despite Brexit, Applications To London Business School Are Surging

15% MBA application growth suggests prospective students are undeterred by UK's vote to leave the EU

Fri Mar 17 2017

Applications to London Business School’s full-time MBA program have surged so far this year — suggesting prospective students to the UK are undeterred by Brexit.

“We have seen a 15% growth in MBA applications so far this year,” said David Simpson, admissions director at the business school. 

LBS is the UK’s best-ranked business school, according to the Financial Times, and home to the number-one international MBA, according to Bloomberg Business Week. 

Academic leaders have warned that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit could deter foreign students and faculty from studying in the UK, while any tightening of the visa regime would make it more difficult for international students to secure the right to work in Britain. Research funding from the EU is also potentially at risk. 

Olly Nguyen, president of the LBS Student Association, admitted that students had been unsettled by Brexit but said they recognized the advantages of the school’s emphasis on diversity and its international network.

“The world’s biggest challenges will still require global, multilateral coordination. Global careers will still exist,” he said.

But he added: “Some of the rhetoric around the Brexit negotiations from both the EU and the UK troubles me because it seems self-centred and, as we learn in class, one of the key goals of any negotiation should be to build the pie together, not just try to get your share of it.”

In 2013, the UK government abolished the Tier-1 post study work visa, which allowed postgraduate students to stay in Britain and seek work for two years after completing their studies, which led to a sharp drop in Indian students studying at UK universities.

Currently, postgraduate students wishing to work in the UK must apply for a Tier 2 visa and secure an employer sponsor, or a Tier 4 visa that places restrictions on working hours during study. There is also a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa for those who wish to stay in the UK to develop a business plan or entrepreneurial idea. 

The visa regime could change once the UK leaves the EU, but the government has said there will be no cap on international students. However, UK prime minster Theresa May has refused to remove international students from the net migration target.

However, Helen Foley, senior manager of visa compliance and financial aid at LBS, said: “We attract people from all over the world, who are used to dealing with visa and immigration issues.

“People who apply to LBS aren’t deterred by paperwork or the visa application process. They’re interested in enhancing their education and gaining experience at a top business school. It’s not an issue for them if they need to get a visa to do that.”

She added that the drop in value of the pound had made studying at the business school more cost-effective.