The number of applications from India to U.S. business schools is falling, according to Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts the Graduate Management Admission Test taken by MBA aspirants.

GMAC’s data shows that the number of GMAT scores sent by Indians to U.S. schools declined 18.6% from 2017 to 2018 testing years (2018 testing year is July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018). Meanwhile, the number of Indians who sent GMAT scores to German schools rose 29.5% in the same period; for Canadian and European programmes, it rose over 15%.

There are two reasons for the trend, says Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO, GMAC. “There’s a long term trend and a short term one. The long term trend is that there more high quality schools opening up in other regions such as Europe, so students have more options. The short term trend is the rhetoric coming from the Trump administration and the strict visa regimes,” he says, adding that the world is seeing a shift in application traffic from one destination to another.

If one wanted to apply to a U.S. business school, this is probably the best time.
Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO, GMAC

Chowfla says there is a positive side to this trend. “If one wanted to apply to a U.S. business school, this is probably the best time. U.S. business schools are seeing fewer applications so overall competition is lower,” he says, adding that for an applicant with a high GMAT score, it is now not only easier to get in but there may also be money on the table, as schools are upping their scholarship budgets.

Interest among the international student community in courses offered by top Indian business schools is on the rise.

Chowfla says that the current environment is one where demand for MBA programmes is flat, but interest in non-MBA graduate programmes is growing.

Interest among the international student community in courses offered by top Indian business schools is on the rise, too, according to GMAC. GMAC’s Study in India initiative, which was started in 2017, generated around 74% more leads in 2018 when compared to the previous year, indicating a sharp rise in the number of applicants looking to attend business school in India. GMAC data also shows the top 10 countries from where students wished to study in India included Ghana, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt. Countries such as Tanzania, Morocco and Philippines, too, featured in the list.

“In 2017, we started promoting Indian business schools to talent abroad, helping schools here internationalise the student body, which we think is incredibly important for business education,” says Chowfla.

GMAC’s India strategy too has evolved, with the company now focussing on three key areas: first, the study-abroad market, which caters to Indian students wanting to apply to foreign business schools; second, the domestic market, which matches Indian students with Indian schools; and third, focussing on bringing in more students from other countries to Indian schools.

“Over the last couple of years GMAC has changed its profile. Earlier, the business school was making the selection, but in today’s world the students are making the selection decision before that, because there are so many schools to choose from. Our role is to develop tools to help students and colleges find each other,” Chowfla says.

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