This year two-year, full-time MBA programmes received less applications compared to 2010. About two-thirds reported a decline in a new survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).
Prestigious schools were no exemptions: At Stanford’s Graduate Business School, applications dropped by 8.9 per cent, at Harvard Business School by 4 per cent and at Wharton, applications were down by 5.9 per cent. The hardest hit region was Asia Pacific where 78 per cent of programmes had declines in application volume, compared to 68 per cent in Europe, and 61 per cent in the U.S.
Part-time and Executive MBA programmes, however, were not affected and specialized master’s programmes saw applications rise.
These are the facts - but how much value to put on these numbers?
Whereas many were quick to jump on the new statistics questioning the future and value of an MBA, it is worthwhile drawing the attention to a few other facts – not to question the numbers but to put them in perspective.
Application numbers have not declined massively over all MBA offers - instead part-time, executive and specialized MBAs were either not affected or even on the rise. This might show new trends but it also mirrors the uncertainty of our economy. Students don’t want to give up their current job as easily anymore. They prefer continuing to work instead of only accumulating big loans.
Also, application numbers were very strong in 2010, so the decline in numbers might only shift things back to normal. Another thought worthwhile pondering is: could it be that the actual number of applicants has not decreased dramatically but that people only apply to fewer business schools than before? With the rise of MBA consultants and an increasingly better preparation, students might not choose to apply at several schools anymore but limit it to their favourites. A tighter economy and the need to continue work might also force them to stay in their local area where selection for b-schools is more limited.
Your comments are welcome!