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Brexit may open doors for Hong Kong MBA students

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Following what many academics and Londoners deemed a shock result on June 23, the effects of Brexit are starting to become clearer for institutions in Britain. Initial predictions suggested that universities would suffer as a result of losing their EU funding. But it now seems many will actually benefit and become even more appealing than before to potential students from overseas.

In particular, applications for MBA courses were previously dominated by EU students. Now, though, there are glimpses of an imminent shift, with encouraging implications for both the British universities and candidates from Asia. With a staggering 5 per cent of all places at British universities being taken up by EU students, the changes will be welcomed by many.

The combination of likely alterations to non-EU visa regulations and a drop in the value of sterling will make MBA programmes in the UK increasingly accessible for non-EU students. According to a number of university deans, students from India and China are seen as the top targets, given their skill sets and presumed financial security.

As a result, the heads of the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) and Warwick Business School both remain positive about the consequences of Brexit. They know that the quality of courses on offer will continue to attract students from around the world, regardless of any perceptions of economic and political uncertainty. 

Simon Collinson, head of CABS, view the future with “a degree of confidence”, a sentiment echoed by many parents looking to fund their children through MBA programmes, which now look more affordable. Indeed, a number of financial institutions have suggested that parents funding their children’s studies settle the full course fees as soon as possible to take advantage of the current favourable exchange rate with sterling. 

Of course, some universities are clearly worried about future revenue streams. A quarter of research funding at UK business schools has traditionally come from the EU, a total of GBP 15.9 million in 2014. Therefore, Brexit will have an impact on how universities receive their grants, but that does not prevent them receiving the same - or more – from alternative sources. In fact, Birmingham’s Business School has indicated that Brexit could lead to an increase in oversees applications, with more interest coming from possible candidates in the US and emerging markets.  

With the imminent triggering of Article 50, many see job prospects for MBA graduates from the EU as a contentious issue. But for people in Asia, this may signal a new dawn, as the UK will be freed from certain constraints and ready to do business with global markets. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s “Open for Business” campaign has shown that London is just as ready to trade and work with other countries as it was before Brexit.

This is certainly an exciting prospect for students in Hong Kong who will have the chance to make an impact during what is likely to be an exciting few years. There is a feeling that jobs and opportunities can only increase. So, as the effects of Brexit become ever more apparent, there may no better time to study an MBA in Britain in preparation for the new openings that look set to materialise. 

Caroline Drewett

Caroline Drewett is the founder of global education company, Coast to Coast Education, which specialises in residential experiences for those preparing to study in Britain. Working between Hong Kong, the UK and South America, she works with a range of clients, including individuals, schools, charities and governments.

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