Ivey Business School (Photo)

The Richard Ivey School of Business, Mar. 28, 2018.

Canadian MBA programs saw a 7.7 per cent increase in international applicants from 2017 to 2018, representing their growing popularity in comparison to their American counterparts.

A survey conducted by The Graduate Management Admissions Council regarding 2018 MBA application trends found that international applications to American MBA programs fell by 6.6 per cent.

Many of America’s most prestigious Master of Business Administration programs, including Harvard University, Stanford University, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, reported a decline in international applicants.

According to Maclean’s, the anti-immigration sentiment perpetuated by President Trump's administration may be contributing to America’s decrease in applications.

In an interview with Maclean’s, third-year student Avani Singh, from Jaipur, India, who is currently studying at Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, stated that Canada’s diverse culture may be drawing more international students to their schools.

With their accepting atmospheres, contemporary Canadian cities have increased the country's appeal for young immigrants looking to study abroad, says Singh. 

In the same article, Rotman’s dean and former deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, attributed the increase in popularity of Canadian MBA programs to the “recognition by government that talent is becoming the defining competitive advantage.”

Late in former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s term, Ottawa loosened work visa regulations for international students, graduates and their spouses, which provided an easier path towards permanent residence status.

John-Derek Clarke, executive director of Masters programs recruiting and admissions at the Richard Ivey School of Business, explained that this trend is more a product of several factors at work at the same time. 

Clarke said that the current political climate in the United States could be sending uninviting signals to international students, and that Canadian MBA programs — through being situated in a nation which has relatively lax work visa regulations compared to its southern neighbour — are benefiting greatly. Many students are attracted by the prospect of living and working in the country where they studied, but can only do so in a country where they can be competitive in the employment market. Therefore, Clarke states that as of late, international students have become increasingly apprehensive about studying in the United States.

Ivey has recently experienced the effects of these political factors. Clarke reports that Ivey received 25 per cent more applicants from international students in 2018 than they did in 2016 — the year in which Trump began his presidency. 

Clarke stated that another factor contributing to this trend is the Ivey MBA's distinguished reputation

Two years ago, GMAC conducted an additional survey of approximately 10,000 international students for their views of American MBA programs. It revealed that nearly half felt that tuition was too high and were concerned about substantial tuition debt after graduation.

The postgraduate opportunities to secure work visas, quality of life, political and economic stability and the health care system that Canada offers are commonly cited as factors which make our nation an attractive study destination, reports Maclean’s.

The increase in international applications to Canadian MBA programs and the respective decrease to American MBA programs in 2018 was part of a long-term trend predating both Brexit and Trump’s presidency.

Students and corporations around the world are increasingly coming to appreciate what Canadian MBA programs offer in a holistic sense, while elite American MBA programs seem to be losing their charm.

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