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Right place, right time?

So much in life is about timing and advertising is no different.  This morning I woke up and turned on Twitter coming across an interesting piece in the New York Times about declining international applications to US universities and colleges.   No great surprise given the perceptions and uncertainty that the Trump travel ban is creating globally.  The article confirmed what I heard on a trip to California recently where one business school said their international applications were down 30% year-on-year.

As the article points out the decline in applications may be about more than just the travel ban, suggesting that exchange rates and work visas may also be having an impact.  Last year I presented at the BUILA conference in Liverpool and the small piece of research I conducted beforehand suggested that exchange rates were unlikely to have played much part, confirmed by a study from The University of Hull.  The US Dollar has been strong for some time and it seems unlikely that it has had a sudden impact on prospective student decision-making.

The work visa issue is more potent if the UK experience is anything to go by.  In a study last year for the Chartered Association of Business Schools in the UK, the 2011 introduction by the government of restrictions on post-study work visas coincided with a four-year decline in international postgraduate taught student numbers from 56,280 to 52,500.  Over 90% of business school surveyed for the study definitely or mostly agreed that ‘Changes to post-study work visa availability has had a negative impact on international student recruitment’.

However, despite the negativity around international student recruitment in the US, there is an opportunity for competitors.  This was amply demonstrated by the same New York Times article which when I opened it online was topped off by a large banner advert for the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow.  Even with Brexit, with post-study visa work restrictions and Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland adding to the uncertainty by calling for another Scottish independence referendum, Glasgow, at least for the next couple of years, may look like a safe haven and attractive destination for international business students turning away from the USA.