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Recruiting Intelligence

The Global Grab: Where Are Grad Students Enrolling Now?

Graduate Business Schools have become globally oriented education institutions. In the United States business schools are experiencing strong financial headwinds and international students have been a welcome source of tuition revenue. Competition among schools has and will intensify based on a number of trends: schools are increasing their recruiting range, launching hybrid and online programs reaching way beyond their traditional recruiting radius. Obviously bigger brands and budgets are taking market share from local schools.The latest news that Thunderbird business school is accepting an investment from Laureate and forming a joint venture shows the competitive pressures in this education segment.

Internationally, competition is intense for business students. We looked at the World Geographic Trend Report for GMAT examinees and there are a number of insights in this report. Global GMAT testing in Test Year 2012 grew 11 percent from the previous year to reach an all-time high of 286,529 exams taken. Women sat for 43 percent of these exams, their highest level ever, up from 39 percent in Test Year 2008. Also interesting in 2012, international student accounted for 59 percent of all GMAT takers, which reflected the worldwide growth of MBA education. Business schools received about 800,000 score reports, U.S. schools accounting for 76 percent in Test Year 2012, down from 81 percent in Test Year 2008. Outside the U.S., management programs in the United Kingdom, Canada, and India received the most score reports.

First take away: strong growth outside the United States and increasing number of female candidates. Is your institutional messaging positioned to reach this growing cohort?

The report authors also point out the significant regional differences in terms of GMAT score sending behavior. For example, prospective Central and South Asian students are sending an average of 4.3 score reports per exam taken versus West Europeans sending only 2.1 reports on average.

Second take away: strong growth among Asian students with a younger cohort of prospective students from that region. Well qualified candidates will receive multiple admissions letters. Is your recruiting program reaching these international students post-admission? What are you doing to be sure these admitted applicants choose you?

Source: 2012 World Geographic Trend Report for GMAT Examinees

Source: 2012 World Geographic Trend Report for GMAT Examinees

All right, we like numbers and Table 3 (below) will make that point. Let's look at a few of the details. Table 3 highlights where prospective students originate, where they come from and where they intend to go. For example, look at the the left hand row under Middle East. Now move to the right, and you'll see that 29% of the GMAT scores sent by citizens from the Middle East are sent to business schools in the Middle East, but 51% are sent to schools in the United States and 11% to Western Europe. While the U.S. accounts for 75 percent of the scores sent versus 11% for Western Europe. We are seeing regional shifts. Furthermore, sending your scores does not mean that you will attend. Often tuition cost is a guiding factor for students though other factors from visa issues to proximity of family members play a role in students' final decisions.

Third take away: Global trends are shifting and many of the factors influencing student decisions are not controllable. U.S business schools need to keep an eye on future demographic and economic trends. Shifting your marketing approach to capture the right candidates at the right point in the enrollment process is becoming increasingly important to sustained enrollment growth.

Source: 2012 World Geographic Trend Report for GMAT Examinees

Topics: Insights