While the total volume of people taking the GMAT over the last year fell marginally from the year before, and again from it’s all-time high in 2009, the percentage of those test-takers who were women or from racial minorities grew significantly in the 2010-2011 GMAT season.
Below are some of the most significant shifts in the test taking population from 2011:
The percentage of female test takers increased for the sixth consecutive year to 41%, which is up from 39% just two years earlier. The fastest growing group to mention in the GMAT pipeline is the under 24 year old population, which has exploded since 2007 – reflecting the push for those seeking post-graduate degrees to do so more quickly than in the past, mainly due to the abysmal job market.
These changes reflect the larger trend in higher education for an increasing amount of minority and international students to apply and be accepted to post-graduate programs across the globe.
A Truly International Student Body (North Americans Included!)
The more liberal approach that European business schools are taking with their curricula is not going unnoticed by the global applicant pool of aspiring managers and entrepreneurs. Many top-ranked European MBA programs have student bodies in which the nation hosting the institution contributes only a small minority of the student population.
For example, HEC in Paris is 82% international, with only 30% originating from all of Western Europe. David Bach, dean of the MBA program at IE reports that the profile of the MBA class matriculating in 2008 was 90% international. Significantly, IE, along with HEC, RSM at Erasmus University, and others are also seeing an increase in the number of North American applicants. This fact is significant since North America is home to some of the world’s most elite and prestigious business schools, which tend to give preference to qualified domestic applicants.
Of course, some level of diversity can be found in most competitive MBA programs, in North America and elsewhere; the difference is more philosophical in nature. For example, at HEC an American MBA candidate may find himself instructed to work in a team with citizens from China, Germany and Saudi Arabia to develop his abilities to work practically with a variety of peoples. As Valerie Gauthier, Associate Dean of HEC, said in an interview in earlier 2008, “The emphasis is not only on the leadership program, but human development.”
Global Collaboration Initiative
European business schools continue to diversify not only in terms of those they attract to their campuses, or the substantial and growing number of students who take part in exchange programs, but also in the ways they integrate with other educational concerns globally.
For instance, in a conference bringing the deans of 11 top business schools in London in July 2007, educational leaders discussed points of common interest, including joint loans and scholarships for students. They also discussed the merits and organization of their respective exchange programs.
The collaborative emphasis also exists between successful European schools and the developing world. IESE in Barcelona, which recently opened up a new office in New York City, has also opened three schools in Africa in Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya with the hope of bringing about the same sort of transformational change to countries in Africa that it helped entrepreneurs bring to Mexico, Brazil and China 20 years ago. Jordi Canals, dean of the program, has said that he wants the school to use its resources to work within the regional educational systems in Africa to train faculty and administration to become self-sufficient and take a commanding role in their own business education.
George Yip’s objective in his newly appointed deanship at the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, as indicated in one of his interviews with Business Week, is simple: establish the Netherlands school in the league of the most elite European business schools. Using a soccer analogy (or football, depending on what side of the pond you find yourself), he says he wants to take the school from the Premiership to the Champions’ League.
Yip said there are three primary means through which he intends to achieve this goal.
o Diversity – The first is to attract more American and Germans. While the Erasmus school is already highly international, with 40 nationalities represented in its 100 students, the ability to attract Americans is a necessity for any school that desires an elite reputation.
o Intellectual Powerhouse – The second is for faculty to publish more research in managerial journals, best-selling books, in the hopes of growing the school’s reputation as an intellectual powerhouse.
o Expanded Executive Education Programs – Lastly, Yip emphasized that the customized executive education programs will be complemented with open enrollment programs as well.
European vs. US MBA
Yip says that European schools are becoming better positioned to compete with top American programs since the gap in the quality of faculty has largely disappeared and the sort of international experience that European business schools are able to provide and that is essential for the next generation of MBAs is less readily available in American schools.
Yip emphasized while the ethnic or geographic diversity available in Europe is important, there is a real difference in philosophy as well. It is generally recognized that American business schools place a greater emphasis on shareholder value and competition, rather than stakeholder management in a more holistic approach to factor in the interests of all parties such as employees, communities and government.
Focus on Sustainability
The current trends towards sustainable business practices and eco-friendly design may also work towards his four-year target of establishing RSM in the top 20 business schools worldwide. Seated in a nation below sea level, the Netherlands is at the forefront of sustainable development, and Yip intends to continue expanding a planning center for sustainability with an emphasis on climate change and incorporating sustainable business practices into RSM’s MBA programs as well.
Yip is the school’s first foreign dean and his diverse background embodies what he considers to be the school’s strengths. A dual American and British citizen, he was born in Vietnam, lived in Hong Kong and Burma in his youth, studied economics and law at Cambridge, before completing an MBA and DBA (Doctor at Business Administration) at Harvard. He spent the consecutive two decades working for Pricewaterhouse, while serving faculty positions at Harvard and UCLA, with visiting positions at Georgetown and Stanford, before returning to England as professor at Judge Business School at Cambridge and moving into a position at London Business School.
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