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International student enrollment continued to drop at U.S. schools in 2018, a trend that began to be felt in 2017. Daily Pennsylvanian photo

How US B-Schools Are Attracting International Applicants

B-schools around the country are exploring a new way to attract prospective international candidates: implementing STEM programs, according to a new report by Forbes.

“Most international graduates are entitled to work in the U.S. for only one year after graduation before their visa expires,” Grace Kay, a contributor at Forbes, writes. “However, with a degree classified as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), international students who are hired by graduation can stay an additional two years through the Optional Practical Training program.”


B-schools in the US have been experiencing a decline in international applicants.

One of the reasons, according to experts, is because of the restrictions that the Trump administration has placed on obtaining an H-1B visa.

A survey by Kaplan Test Prep found that 31% of admissions officers report that international students’ “concern about the current political climate” is one of the main reasons why applications are down.

“There’s no question that business schools are facing some significant headwinds that are largely out of their control when it comes to recruitment, particularly among international students,” Jeff Thomas, executive director of admissions programs at Kaplan Test Prep, tells Inside Higher Ed.


Yet, many international students are taking their chances when it comes to pursuing STEM. The main reason? It offers more job security.

“There are only 85,000 of the visas available each year,” Amy Merrick, a contributor at The Atlantic, writes. “Big outsourcing companies have learned to game the system, and the 20,000 slots set aside for international students who earn a master’s degree in the U.S. fill up quickly. Because people can reapply each year, those with an F-1 visa who remain for their stem training essentially get more chances to win the H-1B lottery.”

For b-schools, like the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester, it makes sense to add focus to programs in STEM.

Andrew Ainsli, the dean of the Simon Business School, says the University of Rochester is the only school in the US where every degree track can receive a STEM designation.

“We didn’t really have to make changes to the curriculum,” Ainslie tells Forbes. About “70% of students in 2018 automatically qualified for a STEM designation anyway.”

And students say having that designation makes a difference when it comes to looking for jobs post-grad.

“Recruiters were fascinated by it,” Magdiel Guardado Castil, a recent University of Rochester MBA graduate and a native of El Salvador, tells Forbes. “It was very new. You usually see STEM degree-holders as engineers, so having an MBA with a STEM designation really stood out.”

Sources: Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, The Atlantic

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