Competition for MBA students heats up among top universities
Gaining an MBA is very popular as a passport to an international career, but competition is starting to bite even here. Applications to MBA courses worldwide have been on a downturn for three years running, and even highly prestigious institutions like Harvard Business School are struggling to attract the best students.
An innovative curriculum that gets students industry-ready is vital
According to a Financial Times report, applications to full-time MBA courses at graduate business schools grew only 43% in 2016, down from 57% in 2015 and 61% in 2014. Whilst 40% of US business schools achieved record growth in applications in 2016, a higher proportion – 53% – saw them fall.
Prestigious schools with a high-level curriculum and established reputation have been enjoying steady growth in their share of applications, but prestige alone is no guarantee of securing the best students.Douglas Skinner, interim Dean of The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which has consistently ranked in the top ten business schools for full-time MBA courses over the last few years, himself recognises that the MBA market is increasingly beset by competition. He sees the constant renewal of programmes as the way to attract applicants, and is focusing on paying increased attention to entrepreneurship. He sees a curriculum that delivers new ideas and industry-ready graduates through hands-on courses as the key to winning in the MBA marketplace.
Last year there was a 25% increase in the number of MBA students at Belgium’s Vlerick Business School, which believes it is important to MBA students to study in an international environment, with 85% of the increase coming from growth in overseas students.
Competition in the MBA marketplace is being spurred by the popularity of online MBA courses. In the US, in particular, the number of distance learners has topped the five million mark. Twenty percent of the 1,500 respondents to a survey implemented in 2015 by US online education institution Learning House had opted for an online MBA course, stating that, while part of the attraction of these courses is that they are cheaper, they also offer students the chance to study wherever they like and at their own pace whilst continuing in paid employment.
We can expect this increase in competition to bring great benefits to both students and institutions in the form of enhanced curriculums.