The United States is losing its charm as a preferred destination for MBA aspirants from India due to a variety of factors including rising costs, visa curbs and diminishing job opportunities for foreign nationals.
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), in its annual Application Trends Survey Report 2019 said international applications fell 13.7% in the US B-schools. At the same time, Canada saw an 8.6% increase followed by 0.9% in Europe.
GMAC, which conducts the standardized GMAT test for admission to MBA and other graduate management programs, says only 45% Indians sent their GMAT scores to US B-Schools in 2018, compared to 57% in 2014.
The same period saw a rise in Indian applicants sending their GMAT scores to B-schools in their own country from 15% to 19%.
Rising Cost of MBA in the US
The total tuition fee for the full-time two-year MBA for the class of 2020 at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is $160,326, MIT Sloan $151,368 and $147,258 at Dartmouth (Tuck). Add to this the living expenses and other costs. It spells a heavy investment for MBA aspirants from anywhere outside the US.
The fees are lower in Europe that also offer the advantage of having more one-year MBA programs translating to lower expenses as you will be able to return to work much earlier. London Business School offers the option of completing the program in 15, 18 or 21 months at a fee of $104,936. INSEAD takes $97,384 for its one-year program.
In India, the fee for the one-year MBA (PGPX) at IIM Ahmedabad is Rs 25,00,000 ($35,274.70), at IIM Bangalore for its EPGP Rs 27,70,000 ($39,087.79) and at ISB Rs 35,98,940 ($50,780.34).
Visa Curbs in the US
Under the Donald Trump administration, Visa restrictions have resulted not only in creating uncertainties about landing a good job post-MBA but also the employers increasing preference for US citizens. They will be able to escape the hassles related to hiring foreign nationals.
In the not too distant past, Indians and others had found the best way to apply for permanent citizenship in the US was to enrol for MBA or STEM programs. However, at present, even if you manage to get the H1B visa, there is no guarantee that you will get an extension after three years.
Even the option of the EB5 visa for those willing to make a substantial investment in the US is also becoming difficult with the stipulation of a $1.8 million investment coming into force from November 2019.
Even though it is only a marginal increase over the $1 million required at present, even this visa has a long waiting list.
The specter of Racial Violence in the US
The increasing incidents of racially motivated attacks in the college campuses and elsewhere in the US is another cause of concern for Indian students. The political situation becoming increasingly volatile ahead of the 2020 Presidential elections with the anti-immigrant views of Trump supporters becoming more strident also is making Indian aspirants seek admission in neighbouring Canada or European B-schools.
Deans, CEOs Call for Change in Visa laws and Immigration Policies
Meanwhile, 50 deans from top US business schools, as well as CEOs from leading companies, have signed a letter addressed to President Trump and other US political leaders demanding changes to visa laws and immigration policies.
The letter is addressed to President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Michael Pence, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Addison “Mitch” McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer.
Expressing concern over a deficit of skills in key fields hindering economic growth, they said, “The fact that our economy has created an estimated three million open STEM jobs is a positive. It speaks to the vibrancy and opportunities available in a healthy, growing economy.
“Yet the fact that those jobs are unfilled – and that the U.S. is not producing enough people with the skills to fill them – is not just a negative, it’s a crisis.”
The best and brightest from all around the world want to come to the US and their hard work and expertise makes the economy stronger and more globally competitive, they said.
“Yet a combination of our outdated laws, artificial regional and skills-based caps on immigration, and recent spikes in hostility are closing the door to the high-skilled immigrants our economy needs to thrive.
“For the first time since we started keeping track of these data, the past three years have seen a reduction in the number of foreign students studying in America’s universities and business schools. Every year, we turn away hundreds of thousands of high-skilled immigrants for no other reason than that they failed to win the H-1B lottery,” the leaders pointed out in the letter.
They called for the removal of “per-country” visa caps, modernizing visa processing system and reforming the H-1B visa program to make it possible for the most talented people to have a reasonable chance of gaining entry to the United States.
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