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Business schools seeking transformation in business model shift

As technology continues to rapidly innovate, it is even easier to connect with peers all over the world in a far more personal and intuitive way online.

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"When looking at regions such as China and India, only around one percent of those applying and enrolling are international students"

But as AMBA & BGA found when returning to in-person conferences with a hugely successful Global Conference for Deans and Directors hosted in Lisbon in May, there is still nothing quite like face-to-face.

Covid taught us that we can do more than we ever thought possible online – whether that was a lecture, conference or gym class. Business schools were able to knock down the traditional barriers of physical space and time to reach their students, meanwhile opening themselves up to a potential brand new global market.

But each region and business school in our international network of the top 2% of schools is unique and they each face internationalisation in their own distinct way.

Recently released, AMBA’s Application and Enrolment Report 2022 showed the continued attractiveness of attending a business school away from home for students. In 2021, globally 36% of all students applying to AMBA-accredited MBA programs were international students, while the percentage of international students enrolled was 29%. This statistic showed no change when looking at the results from the same schools in 2020.

Due to our truly global network, there are striking variations on this statistic when looking at different regions.

For example, in the UK – the vast majority of applications (85%) are international, while over half (62%) of those enrolled are international students. When looking at regions such as China and India, only around one percent of those applying and enrolling are international students.

With competition for students remaining fierce, business schools are not only competing on a local scale but are also now competing online, on a global scale.

AMBA & BGA recently hosted a roundtable on the topic of internationalisation and invited seven leaders from European business schools from our network to talk about how they are taking advantage of the new era of borderless education, how they are attracting and retaining international students and if they thought that their business school’s unique selling point stood out in the global market.

The responses highlighted a wide array of approaches. One leading European business school said that their unique selling point was a focus on local students with 85% of their cohort being domestic. Their plan for 2023 was to teach face-to-face as much as possible.

On the flip side of this, another school said they had 44 different nationalities on their full-time masters and they were significantly investing in digital studios to optimise the experience for both faculty members and learners for greater impact.

A result of the roundtable was that for many of the commentators, having an online option was necessary as students sometimes found gaining visas difficult – with online options being made available by their business school, students were able to start their course abroad and move to the business school when their visa was granted. This issue could become heightened as we face more and more difficult geopolitical events.

“25% of business school leaders see microcredentials as the future of business education”

The trending topic of the day, and one that many business schools have already invested in, is microcredentials. AMBA & BGA’s Transformation and the Emerging Business Model Shift in Business Education report found that 50% of responding business schools are already offering these microcredentials and 25% of business school leaders see microcredentials as the future of business education.

These small stackable modules target a global market and are likely to be a hot topic for AMBA & BGA in the coming months and years. Watch this space for more on that.

Our Application and Enrolment reports repeatedly show the continued demand for MBA programs. That demand will continue to drive business schools on what their offering might be – whether that is a locally specific program or a program with a cohort based all around the world.

No matter what type of program a student is on, if they graduate from an AMBA-accredited program or a BGA validated or accredited business school, they can join our global network of students and graduates. Through both these organisations, students and graduates can strengthen a community that acts as a force for good in management thought and practice, through exclusive events and business content.

About the author: Andrew Main Wilson is chief executive of AMBA & BGA. AMBA accredits 291 Business Schools in 75 countries and provides membership to over 60,000 MBA students and graduates in 150 countries. 

BGA, launched in January 2019, is the organisation’s most significant launch in more than 50 years and over 200 Business Schools have joined BGA in just over three years. 

Andrew was Chairman of United Nations PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) for three years, from 2016 to 2018. He commenced his career with Thomson Holidays (now TUI), then the world’s largest travel tour operator, becoming Marketing and Commercial Director of Thomas Cook and then Sales and Marketing Director of Citibank Diners Club. He subsequently joined the Institute of Directors (IoD) as Chief Operating Officer.

He has interviewed more than 100 of the world’s most influential leaders in the fields of business, politics, sport, and entertainment, including Bill Gates, Baroness Thatcher, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jack Welch, Sir Richard Branson, and Sir David Attenborough. Andrew has also visited 178 of the world’s 200 countries, on a global journey to become the first person to visit all 200 countries and tell the story, in images and words, of the most inspiring travel experiences on Earth. 

He was educated at Dulwich College and the University of Birmingham in the UK and Harvard Business School in the USA.

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