Despite the global Covid-19 pandemic, more than 70 per cent of international candidates who are planning to pursue an MBA outside their country of citizenship are not changing their plans in 2021.
According to a survey by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), an association of leading graduate business schools worldwide that administers graduate business school assessment exam Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), 73 per cent of international MBA aspirants are keen on going ahead with their plans.
On the other hand, only 13 per cent of international MBA aspirants are willing to consider online learning. Moreover, 50 per cent of domestic candidates are pursuing management education due to skill gap in their current roles.
The Council's 2021 mba.com Prospective Students Survey Report finds that the proportion of respondents reporting that they are extremely or very concerned about COVID-19 declined from 41 to 33 percent over the survey period. Interest in graduate management education (GME) programs in 2021 continues to grow among prospective students, a trend that coincides with waning concerns about the impact of COVID-19, according to the new report.
Over 40 percent of international candidates – those who wish to study outside of their country of citizenship – surveyed report working outside their country of citizenship as the primary career motivation. The opportunities to live and work abroad explain why 70 per cent international candidates are more likely to report that they are not changing their original plans compared to 52 per cent domestic candidates amidst a global pandemic. Most international candidates therefore continue to value mobility and do not prefer substituting in-person experience with online learning.
Further, international candidates continue to look to the US as one of their top three choices to study business abroad. Prospective students from India rank the US their top choice, ahead of their home country, while those from Canada and the UK pick the US as their first international destination.
At 27 per cent, prospective candidates from Greater China identify the UK to be their preferred study destination, followed by the US at 21 per cent and Singapore at 12 per cent. According to the report, rising tension between the US and China in recent years may have discouraged prospective Chinese students from coming to America for their advanced degrees, coupled with the growth of high-quality business school programs in China and the Asia Pacific region.
Although studies have suggested that the impact of COVID-19 has been particularly severe on women as they shouldered more responsibilities of remote education and work, the GMAC report has found that many female candidates remain undeterred and are willing to adapt their plans for higher education.
Specifically, women candidates are more likely to seek the flexibility of online learning than men. They are willing to accept a higher proportion of their degree to be completed online and are more likely to agree that career opportunities gained through an on-campus graduate business degree are the same as those gained through an online degree.
According to GMAC president and CEO Sangeet Chowfla, as vaccines become increasingly available, prospective students around the world are seeing light at the end of the tunnel regarding the global pandemic. "It is especially encouraging to find female candidates seeking advanced business degrees for career advantages despite the unique challenges and barriers they face due to COVID-19," said Chowfla.
While more than half of prospective candidates 58 per cent confirmed that they always plan to pursue a graduate business degree at this point, over a third of the prospective candidates or 37 per cent reported that they are seeking GME now because they "want to apply for a job but lack required skills and/or degree to be competitive".