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UK government plans to restrict the number of students entering the UK, and restricting employment visas for graduates, could be damaging to the growing popularity of UK graduate business degrees, according to GMAC, the the US-based Graduate Management Admissions Council, which administers the GMAT test.

Though the past five years has seen business schools in Europe become an increasingly popular destination for international students choosing to study an MBA, this growth could be curtailed if potential UK students cannot get visas, says Julia Tyler, executive vice-president of GMAC.

“The UK attracts more MBAs from around the world than anywhere else in Europe,” says Ms Tyler. “Three factors will be critical if this is to continue: quality of business schools, access to funding and visas for study and work. Should the proposed UK visa system reform take effect, this could have a significant impact on the competitiveness of UK business schools.”

The concerns are the latest expressed in the UK business school industry about government plans to restrict student visas and to remove the automatic right for all non-EU graduates to work in the UK for two years on graduation. Both the UK industry bodies, the Association of MBAs and the Association of Business Schools, along with many UK business schools, submitted their concerns in writing to the Border Agency as part of its consultative process which ended in January.

According to the latest study from GMAC, 11 per cent of aspiring students who took the GMAT in 2010 had those scores sent to European schools, compared to 7.5 per cent in 2006. In total, European business schools received 85,262 score reports from people who took the GMAT exam in 2010, up 90 per cent from the 45,079 score reports test takers sent to European institutions in 2006.


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