Chart: Why 25% Fewer Indians Picked UK for Studying MBA Last Year

(Photo: Derek Key)

Fewer people on the planet are applying to an MBA in the United Kingdom, Indians being the fastest reducing group. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency of the UK government, MBA applications to the country’s schools have dropped by 10-12%. Of this, the steepest fall has been from Indian applicants at 24.7%, dropping from 5,015 students to 3,775 between 2011 and 2012. While some British b-schools blame the slow economy for the tumble, others hold inconvenient immigration rules responsible. The declining rupee has been a dampener too, increasing studying expenses by 15%.

(Number of students from BRIC countries who went to the UK to study MBA)

Pranav Rathi, deputy recruiting manager with Leeds Metropolitan University has noticed this decline for 3-4 years now, ever since the global economy took a beating. But Cana Witt, who is with MBA Careers Services at Lancaster University says that the fall is particularly stark this year – last year 38% of the class were Indians, this year they comprise 26%. “But we also made adjustments to our classes so that all nationalities were represented equally so that has also brought down Indians’ numbers,” Witt adds.

John Paul Kawalek, director of MBA at Sheffield University Management School admits to facing challenges getting applicants since the government’s post study work (PSW) permit decision last year (which prohibits non-European students from staying in the country after graduation unless they have an employer-sponsored work visa.) “Currently our classes have 20% Indians, but we want that to go up,” said Mr Kawalek. Sheffield, like other universities, is offering scholarships to Indian students, which have been on the upswing lately to beat the current dismal scenario. Schools in general say, that the market perception about UK’s unfriendly visa rules for Indians is deterring people from applying to the country’s MBA programs.

Vibha Kagzi, Founder & CEO of boutique admissions consultancy, ReachIvy, holds the slow job market in the UK responsible and has been seeing a surge of applicants for Canada and Singapore instead. She agrees however that the top schools in the UK haven’t been hurt that much. While Vinayak Kamat, director, GEEBEE Education, a company that assists students in pursuing overseas education, says that the quality of students going to the UK has also undergone a change. “Specialised courses, which are not available in India are the need today,” he adds.

For those still insisting on the UK for their MBA, the reasons vary. Mumbai-based investment banker Chirantan Patnaik will be studying at London Business School and Abhishek B has accepted an admission at Warwick Business School. Both have opted to study in the UK despite the expenses involved because of their belief in the quality of schools. Giti Tyagi will be studying at Cranfield Business School because she specifically wanted a one-year program. “The international exposure will do me good. Am willing to risk the present economic scenario,” she says. PaGaLGuY spoke to a couple of students who have recently graduated from UK universities but are headed back to India in search of a job. Not willing to share their names, they vouch that the job market is really bleak back there.