A recent Economist article talks about the changing face of Europe’s business school scene. While many of the advantages of attending a European b-school still hold true – shorter and cheaper programs, more diverse student bodies, and often higher salaries for graduates – data from the latest Economist rankings show that enrollment at these European “Old World” programs has plummeted.
The chart below shows some of the most significant declines in European b-school enrollment:
The article states that one reason for the lack of interest in European MBA programs is the weak economy:
MBAs can look like a good way to sit out a short downturn. In a longer one they lose their charm. With no job-producing European recovery in sight, going there for an MBA seems not so much cleverly counter-cyclical as stubbornly contrarian.
Tougher visa requirements in Great Britain can also be held accountable for the drop in enrollment. Now, graduates are only allowed to stay and work in Britain if they have a sponsoring company and a job that pays $32,000 or more. Visas to entrepreneurs, according to the article, are “piddling.”
Not interested in a European MBA for the above reasons? The article goes on to suggest that b-school applicants check out the Canadian or Australian MBA scenes. A few reasons why: Australia has relaxed it’s student visa policies; MBA grads in Canada can stay for three years and work in the country and don’t need a job lined up; finally, both Australia and Canada have vibrant economies (at least more so that Europe).
I’m not convinced that Europe’s pain couldn’t mean your gain, especially if you are coming from the U.S. or Europe, aiming for top MBA programs and can’t quite cut the U.S. upper crust. If the European schools have recruiters recruiting on campus from the companies you aspire to work for, they could be interested in competitive or almost competitive candidates that the U.S. programs would decline to admit. As always, analyze your goals, your competitiveness, and be prepared to grasp opportunity if it happens to exist across the pond.
Contra-cyclical and contrarian sometimes works.
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