LONDON ADDS A COHORT THIS YEAR DESPITE THE 10% APPLICATION DECLINE
Still, several schools are increasing MBA enrollments in Europe. Despite its 10% drop in applicants, for example, London Business School increased its MBA intake from five to six streams this year. It now enrolls 485 MBA students a year, something made possible by the opening of a new building. LBS originally planned to expand the MBA in 2019, but the school brought it forward by a year. The school says it is not worried about the applicant decline, describing it as the sort of blip adminstrators see all the time.
While the anti-immigration rhetoric and uncertainly over work visas in the U.S. has led to a decline in MBA applications at even the best American MBA programs, Europe apparently has not seen big gains to reflect a dramatic change in demand. “Those people aren’t just thinking: ‘Okay, so I’m not going to the U.S, I’m going to Europe,’ says Benoit Banchereau, director of admissions for the full-time MBA at HEC. “Some of them, of course, are doing this. but I think some of them also go to Asia, because I think there’s also some growth in Asia. Of course, we probably get some of them will apply to HEC, and I’d say at London Business School, but I wouldn’t say that explains any of our growth.”
Still, admission directors at Europe’s best schools say there has been an increase in interest from American students. “A trend across a few business schools in Europe is the increased interest of students from the United States in MBA programs outside of their home country,” says Tino Elgner, senior associate director of admissions for full-time programs at Madrid’s IE Business School. “That is also reflected and noticeable in our application numbers. In addition, we have seen a steady increase in students from Mexico.” Increases in application volume from North America, adds Elgner, are not the result of increased marketing in that region, unlike the higher numbers from such other countries as Israel and Australia, which can be clearly attributed to a concerted effort to recruit from there.
‘WE’RE NOT EXPECTING THE IMPACT OF BREXIT TO BE HUGE’
Is Brexit changing application patterns for the British schools? “At the moment it doesn’t seem to be having too much effect on us,” says London Business School’s David Simpson, who heads up recruitment and admissions. “It comes up in conversation, but as many times as people are concerned, it’s with people saying they’re looking at the opportunities to be gained from being here in a post-Brexit environment, especially if you’re at the higher qualification and skill set. It isn’t impacting as negatively at the moment, but we’re keeping an eye on it. Our student body is highly international and usually those who want to stay and work in London can do so, irrespective of being European nationals or not. We’re not expecting the impact of Brexit to be huge in that way.”
Over the Channel the view is slightly different. “If I was a student today probably I would say: ’I’m not sure if I want to go to a country like in the U.K. that thinks it’s actually better to be just on our own,’” says HEC’s Benoit Banchereau. “That would be actually a first issue for me. The second one will be if Brexit happens next year, am I going to find a job in the U.K.?’”
He thinks that the very top schools will still be attractive to international students, because having them on your CV is a stamp of approval. Whether the negatives associated with Brexit will outweigh the benefits of an MBA from a less prestigious school remains to be seen. In general, though, Banchereau says, “I think more and more students are turning to countries where they feel that globalization is still actually at work.”