GMAC’s 2021 Prospective Students Survey Report found the proportion of respondents reporting that they were extremely or very concerned about COVID-19 declined from 41 to 33 per cent over the survey period.
The survey by GMAC, which is an international association of leading graduate business schools, was conducted based on data collected on a monthly basis between July and December 2020 from 2,515 individuals worldwide who indicated plans to enrol in a graduate management education program in 2021.
The report also determined three in four (73%) international candidates planning to pursue an MBA outside their country of citizenship were not changing their original plans despite the pandemic.
GMAC chief executive Sangeet Chowfla said as vaccines became increasingly available, prospective students around the world were seeing light at the end of the tunnel regarding the global pandemic.
2021 Prospective Students Survey Report Key Findings
Women candidates are more receptive to remote learning than men
The GMAC report has found many female candidates remain undeterred and are willing to adapt their plans for higher education. Specifically, women candidates are more likely to seek the flexibility of online learning than men. They are willing to accept a higher proportion of their degree to be completed online and are more likely to agree that career opportunities gained through an on-campus graduate business degree are the same as those gained through an online degree.
More candidates are considering GME to upgrade skills amidst COVID uncertainties
While more than half of prospective candidates (58%) confirmed that they “always plan to pursue a graduate business degree at this point,” over a third of the prospective candidates (37%) reported that they are seeking GME now because they “want to apply for a job but lack required skills and/or degree to be competitive.” The accelerated demand for GME may be a result of the fact that more candidates recognise the need to emerge out of a shaky economy more career ready.
International candidates still prefer mobility over online
Over 40 percent of international candidates – those who wish to study outside of their country of citizenship – surveyed report working outside their country of citizenship as the primary career motivation. The opportunities to live and work abroad explain why international candidates (70%) are more likely to report that they are not changing their original plans compared to domestic candidates (52%) amidst a global pandemic. Most international candidates therefore continue to value mobility and do not prefer substituting in-person experience with online learning.
United States and United Kingdom remain top destinations for international students
International candidates continue to look to the US as one of their top three choices to study business abroad. Prospective students from India rank the US their top choice, ahead of their home country, while those from Canada and the UK pick the US as their first international destination. Prospective candidates from Greater China identify the United Kingdom (27%) to be their preferred study destination, followed by the United States (21%) and Singapore (12%). Rising tension between the US and China in recent years may have discouraged prospective Chinese students from coming to America for their advanced degrees, coupled with the growth of high-quality business school programs in China and the Asia Pacific region.