B-schools to shift online as international students cancel study plans

International students make up the bulk of Master's degree graduates in the UK.

By U2B Staff 

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A recent survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that visa and travel restrictions are forcing potential graduate management education candidates from the Middle East and Africa and Central, and South Asia to reevaluate their plans to enrol into b-schools this year.

The current COVID-19 pandemic’s far sweeping affects this group the most, indicating an impact on student mobility patterns. This shift will greatly impact the choices of graduate management education that are available for this group of candidates at this time.

The report also finds that these restrictions hardly have an impact on potential candidates from the United States and Europe, with a majority reporting to be less likely to consider alternatives to their existing plans.

According to a GMAC survey out of nearly 500 prospective students considering pursuing graduate management education, less than 10% reportedly considered cancelling plans to pursue further graduate education in management.

The GMAC survey finds that there were differences in the percentage of candidates expressing concern about the impact of COVID-19 on their plans to pursue graduate management education. It is reported that one-sixth of candidates from the United States and Europe reported that they were extremely concerned or very concerned about the impact of COVID-19 had on their plans to pursue further education.

This number is a stark contrast to the 43% of graduate education prospective candidates in the Middle East and Africa, 29% in Central and South Asia, and 23% in East and Southeast Asia who report extreme concern on the impact of the pandemic has on their graduate education plans and options for b-schools.

Thirty-four-percent of candidates based in Central & South Asia and 33% based in the Middle East and Africa reported concern about visa approvals compared to 13% in East and Southeast Asia, 5% in Europe, and 3% in the United States.


Travel restrictions are a key concern among 50% of the survey respondents from the Middle East and Africa, 42% in Central and South Asia, and 30% in East and Southeast Asia. 25% of management graduate education candidates from the United States and Europe respectively

These figures indicate that the regions most affected are the main source of international business school candidates. These candidates are more likely to choose a business school outside of their home country and are more concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their visa applications and the ability to secure international study visas.

A report from the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) revealed that in the UK alone on-EU international students constitute the bulk of graduates from Master’s courses in the overall field of Business and Administrative Studies, representing 69% of the total over the combined period of 2015 to 2018.

The findings indicate that international students make up the numbers to make many programmes at postgraduate level viable and therefore available for those domestic students who do wish to study them. International students also bring the experience of working with different cultures to the fore, which provides an opportunity for the entire cohort to learn from them, adding value to these programmes.

This report emphasises the importance of b-schools to offer viable options to attract and retain international students, not only for the revenue it brings but also to ensure that the programme quality and experience remain.

International students can consider online and distance learning programmes

International management graduate education candidates should consider online programmes to upskill themselves as many b-schools have moved classes online. Some business schools offer one to two-year online MBA programmes which allow students to complete all the required coursework in a shorter timeframe compared to their traditional counterparts.

In its recently released Online MBA Rankings, QS assessed 47 business schools worldwide and listed the top 10 programmes offering exceptional online MBA programmes.


How are b-schools responding to these concerns?

Business schools are also ramping up efforts to provide support to international students whose plans may have been thwarted by the recent pandemic.

Business schools have waived admissions tests including the GMAT and GRE. In addition, The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a leading global association of business schools’ introduction of the GMAT Online Exam is a timely effort to support businesses schools’ admissions processes. B-schools are now allowing students to take these tests from their homes which will now be conducted online.

The GMAT Online exam is an online and remote proctored test that will provide the support required by international candidates and schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. While open to all test-takers, the GMAT Online exam format is intended to support candidates working to meet upcoming business school application deadlines.

This development will benefit MBA or master’s programme hopefuls across the globe – except for several countries including China, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba due to local privacy rules.

Business schools are also making unprecedented changes to their application processes and many schools are now pushing back final application deadlines.

The MIT Sloan Management School has pushed back the deadline for early admission applications to June 2, 2020. The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is also pushing back the deadline for enrolment into its programme to June 3, 2020.

Similarly, Columbia Business School (CBS), INSEAD, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, and UCLA Anderson School of Management have moved application deadlines to June 1, 2020.

Potential business school candidates can also expect virtual admission interviews and campus tours as part of social distancing measures.