The Age of Uncertainty

Andrew Crisp

Andrew Crisp is co-founder of CarringtonCrisp and one of the authors of the See the Future report.

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The latest EFMD/CarringtonCrisp Tomorrow’s MBA survey shows an MBA marketplace that is more diverse, confused and uncertain than ever. Andrew Crisp reveals the details.

Looking at my Twitter feeds one day earlier this year, I got a sense of the current MBA marketplace. In three tweets there was coverage of the winning entry in the GBSN MBA challenge, coverage of sexism at Harvard and the Dean at Stanford indicating that business schools need to embrace change – and can change.

The MBA marketplace has never been more diverse, confused or uncertain, depending on your point of view. For three years, CarringtonCrisp and EFMD have undertaken a study called Tomorrow’s MBA, looking at the views of more than 2,000 prospective students around the world to help business schools better understand how the market is changing.

So is it possible to pick trends for tomorrow’s MBA? Perhaps.

A desire for lifestyle learning not lifelong. Competition from different providers in different places. New ways of using technology to reach potential students. Greater focus on alumni in recruitment, using stories to differentiate providers. Supplying enhanced career services, including support for business start-ups and entrepreneurs. Revising the curriculum and finding a place for sustainability.

Among respondents to the Tomorrow’s MBA survey the full-time MBA is still the preference of 48% of prospective students though 34% prefer part-time study and 18% choose distance learning. Blended learning is also the most popular approach to studying for 27% while just 18% choose traditional academic terms and office hours.

The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), guardian of the GMAT , has also reported that just over two-thirds (67%) of two-year full-time MBA programmes experienced a decline in application volume in 2011 compared with 2010, continuing a trend that began in 2009.

Over five years, those taking the GMAT aged under 24 grew from 58,688 in 2006-07 to 91,028 in 2010-11. Among the 24-30 age group numbers have also grown over the same period (from 114,961 to 124,878) but are down from a peak of 139,144 in 2008-09. The number of test takers over 31 years old has also declined during the same period.

The data suggest a growing interest in lifestyle learning, that is, programmes that fit around a candidate’s present lifestyle and, equally, allow him or her to obtain the lifestyle that they want in the future.

For the full article, you can view the PDF or listen to the podcast.

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