According to a study, applications to MBA and business master’s programs at graduate business schools have increased while those from domestic students have decreased over the last year.
The Graduate Management Admission Council TM’s annual 2021 Application Trends Survey reported that candidates whose citizenship differs from that of the nation where the program is located rose by 4.1 per cent in 2021 compared to the previous year.
Furthermore, the proportion of full-time two-year MBA programs seeing an increase in applications from overseas applicants has more than quadrupled, rising from 28 per cent in 2019 to 57 per cent in 2021.
Sixty-six per cent of the top 50 programs in the Financial Times rankings saw an increase in overseas applications. International applicant growth was reported by 58 per cent of the 19 responding programs ranked 51-100.
Higher-ranked programs seeing an increase in international candidates suggests “that the uncertainty caused by the pandemic has also created an even stronger preference for known brands,” according to GMAC® director of Industry Insights & Research Communications, Rahul Choudaha.
According to one survey responder from a UK business school, the two-year work visa may have resulted in a “substantial” rise in the number of applications from India.
“While the disruptions caused by the pandemic have not disappeared, the confidence of applicants in overcoming disruptions has strengthened,” Choudaha noted.
He further explained, “Data reaffirms that in times of economic uncertainty, many candidates invest in graduate management education to emerge on the other side more career-ready. The pent-up demand among international candidates drove the application volumes at many business schools. Demand for international education was strong even in the middle of uncertainty, however, inability to translate demand in actual experiences was the key challenge.”
The admissions officer at a US business school expressed that the relaxation of Covid-19 limitations or a better view of the US might have resulted in a surge in overseas applications. The 23rd version of the study indicated that a 3.8 per cent drop in domestic applicants resulted in a 0.4 per cent gain in graduate business school program applications.
The poll collected data from 967 programs at 269 business schools worldwide between July 8 and August 23, 2021.
When contrasted with other locations, more programs in Europe, the United States, and the United Kingdom reported a decrease in applications from domestic applicants. While 82 per cent of programs in the United Kingdom reported growth in 2020 (61 per cent in 2019), just around half of the programs recorded application growth in 2021. Throughout the European continent, 58 per cent of programs saw an increase in proposals from foreign applicants, while just 31 per cent saw an increase in applications from local candidates.
Local and foreign applications were more synchronized in Canada, with 66 per cent of programs indicating growth in international applicants and 62 per cent reporting growth in domestic applications. In the United States, 43 per cent of programs reported an increase in overseas applicants.
According to the poll, 52 per cent of full-time one-year MBA programs and 56 per cent of two-year MBA programs saw a rise in applications in 2021, which is higher than the overall average of 41 per cent.
“Full-time MBA programs are commanding the preference among many prospective international students,” Choudaha said. Furthermore, several other business master’s programs are in high demand, headed by markets such as India, he noted.
“For example, the share of Master of Information Technology programs reporting growth in applications from international candidates increased from 33% in 2019 to 57% in 2021. Nearly half (49%) of master in management programs continued their growth momentum in 2021 and reported growth in applications. However, much of this growth was driven by international candidates,” he said.
“Only 29% of MiM programs reported growth in applications from domestic candidates compared to 51% of programs reporting an increase in applications from international candidates.” MBA programs aimed at working professionals witnessed the least number of application increase since 2017, according to the survey.
Certain impediments related to visa policies and learning modes remain, according to Choudaha. “However, data shows that overall deferral rates halved from 6% in 2020 to 3% in 2021. This suggests that compared to 2020, schools became more selective with their policies, and candidates became less concerned about the pandemic,” he added.