For some, localization undermines the cosmopolitan experience of business school
A growing number of working professionals are fleeing the economic downturn and enrolling in business schools to upgrade their credentials. However, unlike in past recessions, many of those flocking to MBA programs this year are staying closer to home in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The trend of localization is problematic for business schools because it undermines the cosmopolitan experience, one of the hallmarks of a top MBA degree. In a globalized world, executives will travel across the world to study together with a diverse cohort of high fliers to gain a global perspective.
However, that diversity is now under threat, at least in the short-term. Last year, two thirds of MBA programs around the world reported a rise in domestic demand, but only half noted an increase in overseas applications, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.
“The Covid-19 restrictions induced some candidates to choose programs closer to their home,” says Andrea Masini, associate dean for MBA programs at HEC Paris. He reports a 36 percent increase in applications from France in 2020. This led to a “significant” uptick in the number of European students compared to 2019.
He puts this down to a number of international candidates deferring their entrance due to travel constraints. This undermined strong overseas demand, with HEC noting that applications from Africa and Latin America were up by 47 percent and 43 percent, respectively. The challenge now will be to convince these students to take up their place next year. […]
At MIP, the Graduate School of Business of Politecnico di Milano, the dean Federico Frattini says there are enough Italian students to substitute for the school’s overseas exposure. He reports a slight decrease in international applications, but insists that the drop was offset by a 13 percent rise in domestic demand due to coronavirus uncertainty.
“In the last few years, we focused mainly on international candidates. Now, we are back to Italian students. But we hope the situation will be temporary,” says Frattini, noting that students may be keen to return to in-person study when the crisis, which has underscored the need for human connection, abates. […]