The Official Blog of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Where Are All the B-School Applicants Going?

Posted by Geoffrey Basye
Geoffrey is media relations director at GMAC™

Posted on Oct 23, 2019 11:00:00 AM

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The Graduate Management Admission Council™ (GMAC™) in partnership with Duke University identifies global and US policy recommendations that can better facilitate the cross-border movement of talent in a knowledge economy.


As leaders in graduate management education, we help to guide this generation of businesses and train the next generation to make our economy stronger and more globally competitive. In this, we must emphasize the importance of talent mobility to the economic development of regions of the world.

Business schools everywhere are designing curriculums that facilitate the creativity and talent needed to succeed in the knowledge economies of tomorrow. A greater emphasis is being put on programs with STEM designation. Technology is being leveraged in new ways and online learning offers supplemental opportunities. But, while the resources may be there, students still face fears rooted in finding employment, or even finding a safe environment in which to pursue their education.

Here are a few things to consider as we advocate for the best and brightest to have the ability to study and work in the country of their choosing:


Students who study globally are charting their own path and thinking large about their future. It is no surprise these students would also have an entrepreneurial spirit to match. As cited by the Brookings Institution, immigrants account for 25 percent of entrepreneurs and 25 percent of inventors in the United States.  The private sector understands this, evidenced by some of America’s largest businesses recently telling the Supreme Court that ending DACA immigration programs will hurt the economy—and reduce job growth.

Many students who go abroad also choose to take that talent back home. We see it in stories like Amna Alyamani’s who grew up in Saudi Arabia, studied in Switzerland, and ultimately received an MBA at IESE Business School in Barcelona. Her education there supplied her with the skills she needed to launch a female-only bakery inspiring change in her home country by training and upskilling less advantaged women in Saudi Arabia.

Demand for high-skilled labor

Even as universities amplify their programs with STEM designation, there is still a high unfilled demand for talent in many knowledge economies. In the United.States. we find millions of unfilled STEM jobs while simultaneously shutting our borders to the skilled immigrants who often fill those roles. High-skilled immigration, or ‘brain gain,’ creates opportunity and fills a need where there simply is not enough domestic talent.

GMAC’s mission is “no talent should go undiscovered.” Mobility is key to that mission. Programs like the Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM Program, which allows foreign students to stay in the United States for three years post-graduation, contribute significantly to increased economic activity and provides US companies with even stronger connections in foreign markets.

Knowledge sharing

No economy will be able to “import” all of the high-skill talent it needs. Through diversity we yield new perspectives and innovate together. Research shows we should encourage high-skilled workers to cross borders and then teach in their new countries.

About 50 percent of computer science faculty and 49 percent of engineering faculty in American universities are foreign-born. This trend permeates in other countries as well as 30 percent of academic staff at UK universities are foreign born and Indian Institutes of Technology actively recruit foreign professors. Together the exchange of information between domestic and foreign talent is invaluable.

Saving the Heartland

The Economic Innovation Group argues that the inflow of skilled workers to the United States has had a strong economic benefit for large cities and centers of innovation but has done little for rural areas and cities that are losing population. Communities everywhere need inflows of talented people to live and work, bringing jobs and clients and fostering a thriving economy. By encouraging foreign students to study and work in areas at risk of economic decline, the entrepreneurial spirit, knowledge sharing and demand for talent all come together to build our communities up again. By promoting the circulation of talent and offering opportunities for learning, everyone wins.

We encourage you to share our findings with your school government relations teams, share on social media, and use our resources to help inspire a change in rhetoric. By welcoming and encouraging global student mobility we are creating opportunity for a future in which we all benefit.

For the latest on the market for graduate business school applicants, read GMAC’s Application Trends Survey Report 2019. Based on a global sample of more than 1,100 responding business school programs, the 2019 report offers timely insights on application volume trends by program type and world region; applicant pool composition by gender, citizenship, and work experience; and expected changes in enrollment rates, acceptance rates, and program size. Hear directly from the team behind this year’s survey and report by participating in one of our regional webinars, which will do a deep dive into the findings for the United States (Wednesday, October 30), Europe (Wednesday, November 6), and Asia Pacific (Wednesday, November 13).

View the report  

Topics: Viewpoints

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