While Australian employers offer MBA graduates the highest average salaries within the Asia-Pacific region, interest in taking an MBA in Australia has dipped slightly according to research by QS.
A total of 2,140 employers worldwide who were actively recruiting MBAs contributed to the TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report 2011/2012, providing details of the annual salaries that they offer MBA graduates. The report found that MBAs working in Australia are paid on average US$17,100 more than those in Japan – the country offering the second highest average MBA salary in the region at US$92,000. Hong Kong follows in third place with an average salary of US$87,500, and Singapore next at US$82,700.
Globally, Australian MBA employers offer the second highest average salary at US$109,100. This puts the country in second place behind Switzerland, where employers offer MBAs US$10,300 more than Australian employers.
Interestingly, businesses worldwide rate Australia’s MBA programs highly, specifying a number of Australian business schools as their preference for hiring MBAs. But despite the financial gains, fewer MBA applicants are showing interest in taking an MBA in Australia.
Data from the TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2011 shows that Australia fell two places in a list of the most popular study destinations amongst future MBAs.
In 2009, Australia was listed as the world’s fourth most popular MBA study destination, but fell to sixth place this year with 18% of the 4,527 survey respondents specifying it as their preferred location to take an MBA.
Data on the number of GMAT scores sent to Australian business schools also suggests that the country is dropping in popularity among MBA applicants.
Australia slipped from 10th to 11th place in 2010 according to the number of GMAT tests received by business schools in the country. Despite this, Alex Chisholm, senior research analyst at GMAC refutes that the data is reflective of a drop in interest.
“Despite the one-place drop, the number of score reports sent to Australian business schools actually increased from 2,831 to 4,156 between 2006 and 2010, an increase of nearly 50%,” he says.
“Australia is also unique in terms of the origin of students sending scores to its schools. In test year 2010, 88% of the 4,156 scores sent to Australia were from foreign citizens. This speaks volumes to the attractiveness of pursuing higher education in Australia,” he adds.
Guy Ford, deputy dean at Macquarie Graduate School of Management agrees.
Comparing Australia’s GMAT uptake rates to the US, which received one of the highest number of GMAT scores from applicants; Ford concludes that there is less emphasis on the GMAT in Australia.
While the number of MBA applicants sending GMAT scores to Australian business schools has doubled since 2006, the number is still small when compared to the number of GMAT scores received by the US.
However Ford explains, “This is because the majority of our students are local and study part time, and GMAT is less relevant for them and us, particularly given our entry requirement of managerial/professional experience.
“We do not ask our full-time students to sit the GMAT, but we encourage them to provide their GMAT scores if they have them, and around 50% of students do in their applications.”
Robert Widing, dean at the Australian business school explains that the reason why the GMAT is of less relevance is because unlike the US, there is less variation in the standard of Australian undergraduate institutions.
“Due to grade inflation over the past 20 to 30 years in universities in the US, along with wide variation in standards across literally thousands of US undergraduate institutions, a standardized test such as GMAT is of great value in identifying applicant quality than in Australia,” he says.
“Australia has about 40 undergraduate institutions that have far less variability in quality standards and much stronger enforcement of grade distributions than the US. Hence, admissions decisions using undergraduate marks can be depended upon, without the assistance of a standardised test to identify quality applicants,” he adds.
Looking ahead, Jan Williams, chair of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – a US-based organization that provides business school accreditation globally – suggests that over time there will be an increase of accredited business schools in Australia.
“There are currently 10 Australian [business schools] that have been accredited by AACSB. We have provided accreditation to one or two business schools in the country every year. There hasn’t been any school in that region that has gained and then lost their accreditation status. The number is going up slowly.”
Findings in the latest QS Global 200 Business Schools Report 2012 provide further evidence that Australia is improving yet further in its MBA offerings.
Over 4,500 businesses worldwide which are actively recruiting MBAs, provided details of which schools they prefer to recruit from. They rated 11 business schools in Australia amongst the top schools in the Asia-Pacific region.
Melbourne Business School was the highest rated business school in Australia being placed third in the region by thousands of employers across the globe.
Other business schools in Australia that have featured prominently in the MBA employer rating include Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Monash University Faculty of Business and Economics, and Sydney Business School at the University of Wollongong.
Professor John Seybolt, former dean at Melbourne Business School says that Australia’s improving MBA profile among employers is partly due to the country’s long European heritage and location. “Australia is a bridge between both cultures, perfect for [English speaking] students seeking exposure to the emerging Asia-Pacific markets in the comfort of an international English speaking country,” he says.
It appears that, in neglecting applying to MBA programs in Australia, business school applicants could well be missing out on a range of opportunities that the country has to offer future management talent.