Business schools must do more to engage international students through digital-first recruitment strategies, according to my article published in AACSB International BizEd Magazine. Here is an excerpt:
International student enrollment is a critical part of the global engagement strategy of many business schools aiming to prepare managerial talent for the world. However, many business schools are facing headwinds from a range of competitive and financial pressures to grow international enrollment. International students seek more value for their money in times of increasing costs of education and decreasing opportunities for immigration and work opportunities, especially in leading destination countries like the U.S. and the U.K. How can business schools overcome challenges and prepare for a sustainable future of international enrollment growth? What are the strategic imperatives for enhancing their value propositions and maximizing engagement with international students?
To better understand the competitive landscape for business schools, let us investigate the enrollment patterns of international students by key destination countries and level of education (see Table).
At the bachelor’s level, international students make up just 6 percent of all business school enrollment in the U.S., compared to over a quarter of all enrollment in Australia and the U.K. This discrepancy indicates an untapped potential to recruit and enroll international undergraduate students in American business schools, especially when demographic challenges are slowing growth in domestic enrollment.
Likewise, at the master’s level, the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany have a comparable proportion of international students in their programs and significantly lag behind the enrollment proportions of Australia and the U.K. But the share of international students at the doctoral level is considerably higher in the U.S. compared to other destinations—a reflection of reputation and quality of research.
In general, English-speaking destinations are more attractive to international students. However, the launch of English-taught master’s programs in continental Europe in the last two decades expanded new opportunities for France and Germany to attract international students.
International students are also gravitating toward specialized master’s programs requiring little or no work experience for admission, a shift from traditional MBA programs requiring significant work experience. This shift is directly in line with the demand for the value proposition in terms of lower cost and higher prospects of finding jobs.
The landscape for attracting international students is becoming more complex and competitive for business schools. In order to maximize the opportunities and ensure the suitability of their international enrollment, business schools must accelerate their engagement with, and outreach to, international students.