The US saw a 14% decline in international business school applications—a steeper decline than any other country; Canadian and European MBA programs saw application increases.
Calling attention to the challenges the U.S. faces, 63 CEOs and deans from leading business schools in the US, have signed an open letter seeking a substantial change in the U.S. approach to high-skilled immigration. The letter expresses urgent concern that the U.S. does not have the high-skilled talent it needs or the capacity to train enough people with these skills to remain competitive in a global economy.
The CEOs are proposing pro-growth changes:
- Removing “per-country” visa caps, modernizing the visa processing system, and reforming the H-1B visa program to make it possible for skilled migrants to have a reasonable chance of gaining entry to the United States.
- Creating a “heartland visa” to encourage immigration into the regions of the United States that could benefit from these talented individuals.
Regions in which students desire to study are likely to be the winners in economic development because they are attracting talent—which has implications for homegrown talent as well by creating hubs of innovation and economic growth. Early Warning Signals: Winners and Losers in the Global Race for Talent provides a look into the current flow of talent into specific countries, citing data from GMAC’s 2019 Application Trends Report, an annual snapshot of admissions trends for graduate business programs.
Quality business schools are emerging around the world and the competition for talent is fierce, the sign of a vibrant marketplace, says Sangeet Chowfla, President and CEO of GMAC. “Business schools don’t hold all the cards, however. Policy makers also have a responsibility to seed an environment conducive to student mobility.”
More Students choosing Canada over the US
In 2019, the United States experienced a 13.7 percent decline in international business school applications—a steeper decline than any other country in the world, and a drop that came amidst largely rising or stable applications everywhere else in the world.
Conversely, both Canadian and European programs saw application increases, which were driven primarily by rising international demand. For the US, these numbers are a worrisome indicator for the future mobility of talent—especially for business leaders who now cite the hiring and retention of talent as their number one concern, says GMAC report.
Canada plans a million new residents by 2021
As a positive signal for the country’s future mobility trends, Canada saw an 8.6 percent uptick in international business school applications in 2019—a positive signal for the country’s future and mobility trends ahead. This follows on the heels of a 16.4 percent increase in the prior year. Canada also gained 286,000 permanent residents in 2017 and aims to have a total of 1 million new residents by 2021—with a focus on high-skilled labor. This positions the nation to yield economic benefits in the years and decades to come.
UK’s skills shortage to worsen
Three in five UK firms reported experiencing a more difficult time finding talent over the previous year, and 50 percent expected the UK’s skills shortage to worsen further in the future. However, 61 percent of UK business programs reported an increase in international applications in 2019 over the prior year, and the share of Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score reports sent to UK programs has increased slightly since 2016, according to a report released by GMAC in March of 2019.
India continues to lose talent
The movement of talent from India to other countries continues, with increasing interest in domestic schools. The percentage of Indians sending their scores from the GMAT exam to United States business schools fell from 57 percent in testing year 2014 to 45 percent in testing year 2018, according to the most recent GMAC data. During that same period, the percentage of Indian GMAT test takers sending their test scores to Indian schools rose from 15 percent to 19 percent.
China now home to 6 of the Top 50 MBA programs
Similarly, Chinese business schools saw a 6.8 percent increase in domestic applications this year, and domestic volumes were up year-on-year at 73 percent of programs. While 86 percent of applicants to these programs currently come from within the region, the rising profile of China’s business schools could begin to attract more global candidates. China is now home to six of the Financial Times’ Global Top 50 MBA programs, including the fifth-ranked overall school, China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS). In 2009, just two of the top 100 were in China.