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International student interest in US business schools continues to decline

For the second year in a row, the US has decreased in popularity as a destination for international students looking to pursue their business education, dropping by nearly a fifth (17%) between 2017 and this year, according to a new report.

The US was shown to be slightly more popular with men (52%) than women (49%). Photo: Pexels

Despite the decrease, the US remains the top study destination along with the UK

Created by CarringtonCrisp and run in conjunction with EFMD, the 2019 ‘Business of Branding’ report examined how perceptions of countries might impact on student decision-making, drawing on data collected from 1,006 respondents across 64 nationalities.

“The impact of national politics is clear in the weakening position of the US”

It revealed that the US was considered by 50.2% of respondents as a study destination, dropping from 62% in 2018 and 67% in 2017.

“The impact of national politics is clear in the weakening position of the USA as a preferred study destination for international students,” explained author of the report, Andrew Crisp.

Despite the decrease, however, the US remains the top study destination along with the UK at 50% (49.6%) which also decreased slightly in popularity from 52% last year.

“Both countries have experienced political upheaval over the past year, creating uncertainty. However where they diverge is in terms of cost of study,” continued Crisp.

In the US, he explained, fees have continued to rise both among providers and for international students because of a strong US dollar.

Meanwhile, in the UK the weakness of the pound has meant that students from some countries have found that the cost of study has fallen compared with previous years.

Beyond the US and UK, Canada (38%) and Australia (37%) were the next countries considered by students as study destinations, both at almost identical levels of support as in the previous study.

Further back ranked New Zealand and Germany, with Ireland, France, Switzerland, Singapore and the Netherlands all chosen by between 15% and 20% of the respondents.

However, the study reveals some different views among men and women on study destinations.

The US was shown to be slightly more popular with men (52%) than women (49%). Conversely, Ireland, New Zealand,  Canada, Australia and the UK were shown to be at least 5% more popular with women than men.

“Personal safety may be driving some of the attitudes as to where to study, with some countries viewed as safer than others. When thinking about where to study, the perceived safety of a location is more important to women (20%) than men (14%),” said Crisp.

Respondents were also given 10 statements to gauge their perceptions of 15 different countries.

The UK is top in having a good range of universities and business schools (86%) and seen as welcoming to international students according to two-thirds (66%).

“The challenge for business schools is how to capitalise on their country’s positive perception”

Conversely, Spain (38%) and France (33%) are perceived as some of the least welcoming countries.

Germany was viewed as having the strongest economy (74%), while Australia is top in offering an attractive lifestyle (80%) and a sense of adventure (76%).

“The study underlines the power of perception… the challenge for business schools is how to capitalise on their country’s positive perception, as in the sense of adventure for Australia, or try and counter the negative perceptions, such as how welcoming it is in the case of Spain and France,” concluded Crisp.

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