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Is Canada Scoring Over the US in MBA Admissions?

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With a 7.7% per cent increase in applications between 2017 and 2018, Canada was ahead of the United States in attracting participants for MBA programs, according to the 2018 application trends survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC).

During the same period, applications at US schools fell by 6.6%. While around two-thirds of Canadian business schools reported a year-over-year increase in applications, only a third of American schools reported a rise in applicants.

Meanwhile, some of the most sought-after MBA programs in the US saw a decline in the number of applications. University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business had an 8.2% drop, Stanford GSB 4.6%, Harvard 4.5% and Northwestern Kellogg 2.7%.

The Toronto-based Rotman School of Management witnessed a 90% growth in international students since 2014. These students accounted for 60% of the enrolment in the 2020 MBA program.

The Chicago Tribune quotes GMAC president Sangeet Chowlfa as saying that the declining interest among students from across the world to study in B-schools in the US was a long-term trend.

The GMAC study noted that while the majority of applications received by Canadian and European programs this year were from international applicants, such applications to US schools dropped by 10.5%. GMAC had sent questionnaires to almost 2,600 business schools around the world and the survey received feedback from 363 faculty and 1,087 graduate management programs.

The Toronto-based Rotman School of Management witnessed a 90% growth in international students since 2014. These students accounted for 60% of the enrolment in the 2020 MBA program.

Apart from US President Donald Trump’s policies that made US schools a less attractive proposition for international students, a GMAC survey of around 10,000 international students two years ago had revealed that almost half of them felt that the tuition fee in the US schools was too high leading to a huge education debt even after graduation. While around 57% of the respondents wanted to study outside their home country, a third had sought global careers.

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While the Trump administration placed restrictions on specialized work permits, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in his term, had relaxed work visa rules for international students, graduates and their spouses.

This is another factor that makes Canada an attractive destination. The work visas are seen as a relatively easy way of acquiring permanent residence status for many who want to settle down in Canada.

Paul Davidson, CEO of Universities Canada, said Canadian post-secondary institutions have seen increases in applications across a range of professional programs from countries like Mexico and India.

Compared to an increasingly protectionist US regime and the unsettled times in the United Kingdom caught in the throes of Brexit, Canada’s value has gone up among international students. Canadian policy makers are also not averse to attracting international talent. They have realised that one of the ways of attracting direct investment to Canada is by providing a highly educated and globally minded labour force.

Meanwhile, the domestic outlook is not that rosy for Canadian B-schools. Applications from citizens have dropped 11.2% between 2017 and 2018.

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