International MBA candidates are landing fewer jobs according to a new survey which revealed that more than two-thirds of MBA programs saw declines in job opportunities for foreign students.
The MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance polled 94 business schools and found that while employer hiring is buoyant overall, companies are less willing to hire internationals.
And there is bad news for specialist masters students, too, as more than 40% of business schools reported a decline in job opportunities for internationals taking courses such as the masters in management, according to the survey.
Business schools said the reason for the fall in job opportunities for international MBAs was because of the uncertain political climate in the US—the largest market for top MBAs—with fears growing that the Donald Trump administration will tighten visa rules for foreigners.
“The situation right now, and it has been this way for the last two years in the US, is that there has been a lottery for H1B visas [which most international MBAs use to work in the US],” said Denise Karaoli, senior associate director at Virginia’s Darden School of Business. “And over the last few years it’s been competitive for employers to be able to get these visas.”
She added that the current visa system may be holding back US employers from hiring more MBA students. “Employers absolutely want and need global talent and would hire many many more if there wasn’t this H1B lottery situation that there is now,” she said.
And while Trump’s promises to “hire American” have caused angst among prospective international students, Denise was in fact encouraged by recent immigration reforms proposed by the US president’s administration. “Trump wants people in the US that can contribute to the economy — and that’s our international MBAs,” she said.
Nevertheless, the report highlights the challenge that business schools globally face in attracting international students to their programs. UK business schools are grappling with their own challenge: Brexit, which could pose problems for those hoping to secure a visa to work in Britain.
Foreign candidates are important for schools because their diversity enriches the learning experience of other participants. On an MBA, the mantra is that you learn as much from peers as from professors.
But a recent survey by Kaplan Test Prep found that 68% of admissions teams at US business schools fear that the current domestic political climate will stymie applications from international MBA students.
It is already having an impact, as the number of applications to two-year MBA courses in the US plummeted at 64% of business schools, with three-quarters seeing falls in applications from internationals, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council.
Some business schools have already warned on their application numbers for this year—the Darden school said there was a drop in first-round applications to its MBA because of the violent rallies in Charlottesville.
Schools say that the highest-ranked programs are unlikely to suffer as a result of fleeting political trends, but they warn that those further down the pecking order could suffer as a result.
“I have read stories about people who have lived in Britain for 30 years and the government has suddenly said, ‘Sorry you’re no longer a citizen, you have to leave’,” said David Asch, a director at the European Foundation for Management Development in Belgium.
“Those stories don’t help, but they don’t bite with the more sophisticated MBA market. It won’t stop people going to LBS or Imperial or Cass in London. But the lower ranked schools could suffer.”