- 15 MBA programmes at the UK’s most renowned business schools are set for a bumper year after applications for the premium graduate courses rose by as much as 21 per cent at the same time as their US counterparts continue to struggle to attract students.
- Warwick Business School, London’s Cass Business School and Cranfield School of Management are on track for double-digit percentage year-on-year increases for applications to start in autumn 2019.
- Demand for London Business School, the highest ranked British MBA provider on the Financial Times global rankings, is up 3 per cent on 2018. By contrast many US schools are forecasting a fifth year of declining demand.
The surge in applications also confounds predictions made by many academics in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum that students would feel less welcome in the UK as Brexit approaches. One thing we can all agree on about Mr Trump is that he is the biggest plus for UK higher education. One theory is that the US trade war with China has diminished the attractiveness of American MBA providers, which were already suffering as a result of tightening visa restrictions, and made the UK appear a better option in terms of work opportunities after graduation.
Cass, part of City University in London, has attracted significant interest from Chinese and other Asian students, who would otherwise have applied to US schools, according to Steve Thomas, associate dean for MBA programmes.
“One thing we can all agree on about Mr Trump is that he is the biggest plus for UK higher education,” Mr Thomas said. “His behaviour in relation to China, and against companies like Huawei in particular, is making the US significantly less attractive to students from Asia.”
Cambridge’s Judge Business School is the only one of the 11 UK members in the FT’s top 100 MBA ranking list whose applications have fallen in the past 12 months. A spokesman for the school blamed uncertainty over the UK’s departure from the EU. Brexit, it was assumed, would restrict or complicate the student visa process and dampen postgraduate students’ job prospects.
However, Brexit is not a deciding factor for many of those currently applying for course places, according to the most recent student survey by MBA entrance exam administrator the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Its poll, conducted last December, found that 54 per cent said Brexit had no impact on their decision whether or not to study in the UK.
- Demand for the MBA globally was broadly flat last year, according to GMAC’s most recent global applications survey, with an 8.8 per cent increase in the Asia Pacific region offset by a 6.6 per cent decline in the US.
- Some of the sharpest falls in applications in the US have been at leading institutions, such as Harvard Business School and Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Both have frozen their tuition fees at 2018 levels, widely interpreted as a defensive move to prevent demand for their courses falling further.