INTERNATIONAL students taking a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) are being put off applying to Scottish universities because of "unhelpful" immigration cap legislation, warns a UK accreditation body.
The resulting "confusion" among applicants puts universities, which rely on the tens of thousands paid by MBA students each year to fund other programmes, at "risk", warns Sharon Bamford, the Scottish chief executive of Association of MBAs (Amba).
She said: "Scotland has been built on its international outlook, but there is a worry (for these institutions] when we stop being international. There is an element of risk."
Bamford added: "The message we need government to give out is we are open for business and the confusion is not helpful."
Immigration minister Damian Green last week said that the proposed crackdown on visas was designed to prevent bogus students from coming to stay in the UK, which he dubbed an "abuse" of the system.
But Bamford said MBA students in particular contributed to the economy of the UK while they were studying and they should be free to work in the UK once their studies are completed.
"You have to distinguish between a language school above a chip shop in Bermondsey from a programme that costs international students 30,000 a year to do," said Bamford.
Last month Amba submitted evidence to a Homes Affairs select committee looking at the impact of proposed restrictions on Tier 4 migration.
Amba argued that the proposals risked "alienating future global business leaders from UK business programmes poses a high risk of medium to long term consequences to the UK economy".
Amba said restriction would force prospective students to study in competitor countries including Canada, the US and Australia, as well as emerging MBA programmes on offer in India and China, two of the UK's biggest markets for international students.