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The UK remains the most popular destination for international students enrolling in masters in finance courses, but is failing to keep them once they graduate.

The proportion of masters in finance graduates from outside the European Economic Area who work in the UK three years after graduating has more than halved since 2012, according to the 2018 Financial Times rankings of pre-experience and post-experience programmes. Those from ranked courses fell from 25 per cent in 2012 to 10 per cent in 2018.

The appeal of staying in the UK is clear, with average salaries for non-EEA students of about $66,000 compared with $53,000 for those who return home.

Masters in Finance rankings 2018

Table-topper: HEC Paris heads the FT’s 2018 pre-experience Global Masters in Finance ranking © Reuters

Find out which schools are in our ranking of post-experience and pre-experience postgraduate finance degrees.

However, “finding a job in the UK was near impossible because of the visa sponsorship requirement”, said one graduate from Warwick Business School, responding to an alumni survey. “There is no way an international student can both study well and search for a job,” they said, adding that “everyone had to make their choice”.

The UK government abolished post-study work visas in 2012. Now graduates from outside the EEA must have an offer from a sponsoring employer in order to work in the UK.

In contrast to the UK, the proportion of overseas graduates who stayed in the US — the second largest destination for international students — rose from 48 per cent to 64 per cent in the same period.

Asian students matter to schools offering masters of finance degrees. They account for two-thirds of newly enrolled students among the 65 ranked pre-experience programmes, including 78 per cent and 73 per cent of students in the UK and US respectively. At the Adam Smith Business School in Glasgow, about 95 per cent of the 173 students on the masters in international finance course were Chinese.

The proportion of MiF students from the EEA who remain in the UK also fell in the past two years, from 42 per cent in 2016 to 37 per cent.

The 2018 tables rank the best 65 pre-experience programmes — for students with little or no financial work experience — as well as the top six programmes for professionals.

HEC Paris is back at the top of the pre-experience course ranking after losing the number one slot last year for the first time since 2011. ESCP Europe is second and Edhec Business School, top in 2017, falls to third. With Skema fourth and Essec fifth, the top five places are all taken by French business schools.

HEC Paris alumni earn the second highest average salary at $136,000 three years after graduation, up 82 per cent on their first salary after graduation.

HEC is also fourth for the efficiency of its careers service. “It helped me secure multiple internship and employment offers, which were largely a result of the good guidance and networking opportunities provided by the programme,” said one graduate.

The school also scores highly on international criteria. It is top for the mobility of alumni and eighth for international course experience.

Alumni from MIT Sloan School of Management have the highest average salary at $141,000 but that did not prevent it slipping two places to seventh. A 15 per cent fall in the salary increase from before the masters was one factor.

Neoma Business School in France made the greatest progress, climbing 16 places to 25, recovering from a drop of nine places the previous year.

ISCTE Business School of Portugal is up 13 places to 27 despite alumni having the seventh lowest average salary at $47,000. Its scores rose for salary increase, value and student satisfaction.

Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance at Jiao Tong University moves up four places to 10th. It is the first Chinese school to make the top 10 since Guanghua School of Management at Peking University came eighth in 2011.

In the other ranking, for experienced professionals, London Business School (LBS) remains top, ahead of Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge in second place, and Lee Kong Chian School of Business of Singapore in third.

Alumni from the top three schools have similar salary increases compared with their pre-MSc job, at near 90 per cent, but graduates from LBS have the highest salaries at $160,000 on average.

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