Australia scores Top 10 preferred destination for MBA students

Gold Coast (600x250)
Australia’s lifestyle, natural beauty and numerous study options are a major attraction for international students

Australia has been recognised as one of the Top 10 preferred study destinations for MBA students in a major new survey that also showed more than half of all prospective students hope to study in a different country.

The survey — of nearly 12,000 registrants to GMAC’s mba.com website and conducted throughout 2014 — showed 52 per cent of prospective students seek to study outside their country of citizenship, up from 40 percent in 2010 (and noticeable among Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern citizens).

The four main reasons prospective students prefer to study outside their country of residence include a desire for an international career, the welcoming nature of the study destination, English-language development, and word-of-mouth recommendation.

Globally, the United States remains the top desired study destination for prospective students, but its popularity decreased from 73 percent of prospective students in 2010 to 66 percent in 2014. The top 10 preferred study destinations worldwide are the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, France, India, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands and Australia.

In a surprising finding, the survey also found prospective students also ranked their preferred destination as more important than school rankings. When students listed their top five consideration criteria for actually selecting a program and a study destination, rankings didn’t rank.

The survey does show that published rankings have influence in candidates’ school consideration but places rankings overall as the third most consulted information resource for prospective students, finishing behind school websites and friends and family.

“Given the degree to which school rankings dominate the discussion, it is interesting that as their decision making progresses, students themselves say that rankings fall in importance,” said Gregg Schoenfeld, GMAC’s director of Management Education Research.

Highlights from the survey findings include:

  • Even as business school portfolios of master’s programs continue to diversify, the MBA remains the degree most often considered by prospective students. MBA programs are exclusively considered by half (52 percent) of prospective students, globally. Gauging the interest of prospective students across more than 25 MBA and specialised business master’s program options, 26 percent of today’s candidates are considering both degree types.
  • Sixty-five percent of prospective students pursue graduate management education to increase the job opportunities that are available to them.
  • Segmenting prospective students by career goals reveals three groups: career enhancers (34 percent of respondents), career switchers (38 percent), and aspiring entrepreneurs (28 percent).
  • The Millennial generation (those born from 1980 to 1998) dominates the distribution of today’s prospective business school students and represented 88 percent of all survey respondents. Schools have three-months, on average, to engage Millennials from when they take the GMAT exam and when they submit their first application to business school.
  • Financial issues remain the most prominent reservation among all prospective students; 48 percent of candidates say attending business school requires more money than they have available and 44 percent are hesitant about taking on a large financial debt. Both of these figures have declined, however, since 2010.

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Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).