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Andrew Main Wilson mulls over the way in which Covid has impacted business schools’ thoughts on overseas students. 



MBA’s recently released Application and enrolment report 2022 shows the continued attractiveness for students of attending a business school away from home. In 2021, 36 per cent of all students applying globally to AMBA-accredited MBA programmes were international students, while the percentage of enrolled international students was 29 per cent. This statistic showed no change when looking at the results from the same schools in 2020.

Due to our truly global network, there are striking variations on this figure when looking at different regions. For example, in the UK the vast majority of applications (85 per cent) are international, while over half (62 per cent) of those enrolled are international students.


When looking at regions such as China and India, only around one per cent of those applying and enrolling are international students. With competition for students remaining fierce, business schools are not only competing on a local scale, but are also now competing online on a global scale.

AMBA & BGA recently hosted a roundtable on the topic of internationalisation and invited seven leaders from European business schools from our network to talk about how they are taking advantage of this new era of borderless education. In addition, it asked for their feedback on how they are attracting and retaining international students and if they thought their business school’s unique selling point, or USP, stood out in the global market.


The responses highlighted a wide array of approaches. One leading European business school said that its USP was a focus on local students, with 85 per cent of its cohort being domestic. The plan for 2023 is to teach in person as much as possible. In contrast, another school said it had 44 different nationalities on its full-time master’s programme and it was significantly investing in digital studios, to optimise the experience for both faculty members and learners and achieve greater impact.

For many schools, having an online option is necessary, as students sometimes find gaining visas difficult. With online options being made available by their business school, students are able to start their course abroad and move to the business school when their visa is granted. This issue could become heightened as we face increasingly difficult geopolitical events.

The trending topic of the day, and one that many business schools have already invested in, is micro-credentials. AMBA & BGA’s Transformation and the emerging business model shift in business education report found that 50 per cent of responding schools are already offering such credentials and 25 per cent of business school leaders see micro-credentials as the future of business education. These small, stackable modules target a global market and are likely to be a hot topic for AMBA & BGA in the coming months and years.

Our application and enrolment reports repeatedly show the continued demand for MBA programmes. That demand will continue to drive business schools on what their offering might be – whether that is a specifically local programme, or one with a cohort based all around the world.   E

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