From education to employment

The Business Case for International Students

The business case for international students

International students have always provided an important flow of talent for businesses. Mature students coming to the UK to study MBAs, for example, commonly go on to secure jobs across business, finance and technology. Anyone who’s worked in a London-based startup will likely tell you it’s a melting pot of culture. At Jobbatical, for example, our team of 100 is made up of people from 26 nationalities. 

International hiring has become increasingly important since the pandemic instigated a global talent shortage, being felt acutely by UK businesses. Industries from healthcare to cybersecurity and AI are struggling to hire from the UK’s talent pool. There simply aren’t enough applicants for the positions open.

In a recent study, 73% of business leaders said talent shortage was their biggest concern. Increasingly, businesses need access to highly skilled workers from the places where surplus exists: India, Nigeria and the Philippines, for example. 

Moreover, a recent report by University UK found that international students are not just good for hiring, but also a huge boost to the economy. It’s estimated £60bn is generated from additional economic activity throughout their studies. It also notes the huge cultural, academic, and soft power benefits from attracting global talent into UK higher education.   

Pricing out international students

So why then, are the UK government taking active steps to cut off the talent supply? Earlier this year, the government banned international students from bringing family members over. A particular concern for UK business schools that rely heavily on mature students, many of whom are married with children. Universities and business schools have already spoken out about the impact on fees and diversity.

In October Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that student visas would rise in cost by 35%. Along with rises in health surcharge and other visa costs, he priced out a number of those considering exploring a working life here overnight.   

While we’re still waiting to see the impact on higher education and businesses, emerging data shows international student demand and enrolments are falling, with reductions at postgraduate level most significant. 

Looking ahead and hopeful

As the CEO of a global business with staff in the UK, I see the increasing barriers to access streams of talent are counterintuitive and short-sighted. And as a former international student turned international entrepreneur, I feel frustrated for those who will not get the same opportunities I had.  

I hope the UK government will listen to the protests and concerns of UK businesses, universities and local economies alike and reconsider any further damage to the number of international students in the UK.  

I hope they look to the student cities of Edinburgh, London and Cambridge to recognise the sizeable impact foreign students have on local economies and take a walk around Old Street, the City of London or Shoreditch to see the very real impact that the talent shortage is having on businesses

By Karoli Hindriks, CEO and Co-founder of Jobbatical

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