Worldwide applications for business Master’s degrees fell 3.1% in the last academic year, the second straight decline, according to the international entrance exam. In the US, home to the MBA degree format, 56% of schools reported a fall in applications.

However, 59% of business schools in the UK reported growth across all postgraduate degrees, and applications from overseas students were up at three in four institutions.

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Bill Boulding, Dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and chair of the GMAC board, said British business schools were seen as a smarter option in terms of job opportunities and return on the investment of study compared with other markets – particularly the US, where fees are significantly higher. Mr Boulding also added that the UK is second only to the US in terms of MBA course rankings and has a comparably strong jobs market:

Talent will flow to places where there is opportunity. The US is still a vibrant place for jobs with employers having a hard time filling vacancies, but this is a global competition for places.

Concerns about the negative impact of the UK’s vote to leave the EU are no longer shared by those coming from overseas to study at British institutions.

In separate research among this group by GMAC, 54% said Brexit had no impact on their decision to study in the UK, up from 46% in a similar poll conducted shortly after the referendum result in 2016.

Business school heads expect their relative international position to improve further next year after Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, last month announced that students could stay for up to two years after graduation to seek work, a reversal of restrictions imposed in 2012.

According to Anne Kiem, Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, the UK industry association, noted that UK business schools “have shown agility in adapting to evolving student demands and a hostile immigration environment.

The post-Brexit referendum weakness in the value of the pound has helped attract overseas students, but so have the actions of school admissions departments, promoting courses more widely, Ms Kiem added. She said:

UK business schools have had to step up their recruitment at home and abroad.

European business schools have long been more international in their intake than their peers in other parts of the world, with 79% of applications to these institutions coming from abroad and 59% from outside the EU.

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According to the GMAC research, almost two in three European schools reported stable or growing application growth from overseas this year and 60% reported growth in their applications from abroad. However, most of those seeking a postgraduate business qualification choose to study at home.

Source: The Financial Times