SE Asia Growing in Popularity for MBAs |

SE Asia Growing in Popularity for MBAs

By QS Contributor

Updated July 19, 2014 Updated July 19, 2014 finds out why SE Asia is growing in popularity for MBA applicants

Following years where Asian countries were rarely considered for MBA study, south pacific countries are beginning to feature in the top most popular MBA study destinations, according to the recently published QS Applicant Survey 2011.

The 2011 applicant survey sees Singapore reclaim its spot in the top ten most preferred MBA study destinations having been rated as the world’s ninth most popular place to study in by prospective MBAs at the last QS World MBA Tour. Among Asian respondents, Singapore was the third most popular choice; with 24% of 1,946 Asia-Pacific based respondents wanting to study there, and among Singaporean respondents specifically, 66% chose to study in their own country, only slightly behind the US at 67%.

The number of Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores sent to business schools in Singapore is also a good indicator of the country’s popularity.

“The type of prospective students sending score reports to China and Singapore are more globally diverse. Nearly half of scores sent to Chinese business programs in test year 2010 were from foreign citizens. Of scores sent to Singapore, 90% were from foreign citizens,” says Jane Delbene, director of EMEA marketing at GMAC, the organization that administers the GMAT.

Many say that Singapore’s popularity could be down to Asia-Pacific’s ever growing MBA reputation. With an increase of accredited schools situated across the south pacific region, coupled with its growing economies, Asia-Pacific could arguably in years to come be amongst the prime destinations of MBA study.

MBA accreditation in Asia

The boom in accredited business schools across Asia-Pacific has been linked to its popularity. Historically, the US has been the most popular study destination among those from Asia Pacific. But according to figures by GMAC, fewer test scores from Asian citizens are being sent to the US.

“As more Asian schools have gained international recognition, the proportion of scores sent to the US by Asian examinees has actually fallen, from 75% in test year 2006 to 68% in test year 2010,” Delbene says.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a US-based organization that provides business school accreditation globally says it has provided accreditation to a growing number of schools in Asia.

“In the past five years, 23 schools in Asia have received AACSB accreditation and that’s more than doubled. The number of accredited schools in Asia is now 42,” says Jan Williams, AACSB chairman.

“A large number of business schools in the pipeline for obtaining AACSB accreditation are from Asia. We currently accredit over 600 schools and while the majority of these schools are in the US, recently much of the growth has been outside the US, and Asia is a primary growth area,” he points out.

The number of Asian business schools accredited by two leading accreditation bodies, AACSB and Association of MBAs, indicate that China has the highest number of accredited schools in East and South East Asia at 27.

More specifically, China and India’s developing economy could contribute to an increase in MBA applications as their job market will appeal to many. The Applicant Survey 2011 found that one of the top reasons people take an MBA in their chosen destination is because they want to work there after obtaining the qualification.

In the rest of Asia, citizens in developed economies such as South Korea and Japan have taken 7% fewer GMAT exams.

Delbene says this could be down to decreases in the population size. In Japan, the number of 20- to 29-year-olds has fallen by 2.4 million since 2005, and in South Korea, student age population has decreased by one million.

“This downward trajectory is expected to continue in both countries for the next several decades. With current participation rates in higher education already quite high in Japan and South Korea, it is unlikely that these population losses will be offset," Delbene explains.

The QS World MBA Tour and Connect 1-2-1 visit various cities throughout Asia during November and December. Prior to this, both prestigious MBA events will visit destinations throughout Latin America, North America and Europe. To find out more, visit the MBA events homepage.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in July 2014

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