'Wonderful problem': Canadian schools have too many foreign applicants to choose from
Top-tier Canadian business schools received 20 percent more applications in 2016. Source: Sobey Business School

Canadian business schools are getting a spike in number of foreign applicants keen to study in their universities, adding more diversity and giving recruiters more choice in selecting candidates.

The increase was by more than 20 percent higher in volume over 2016 in top-tier Canadian business schools including the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Queen’s University Smith School of Business, York University’s Schulich School of Business, and Western University’s Ivey Business School.

Schulich saw a 170 percent increase in applications from Americans, the school says.

According to The Globe and Mailthe reasons for this upsurge is a “mystery” – school officials point to their marketing efforts and Canada’s growing presence as a study destination.

Brexit and the Trump effect were also potential factors pushing foreign students from the traditional study destinations United Kingdom and the United States respectively to Canada.

International students are choosing Canada over UK due to Brexit. Source: Shutterstock

“The uncertain times in the UK and the US have accelerated the trend we were seeing,” says Jamie Young, director of recruitment and admissions for full-time MBA at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

A new survey released this week found 39 per cent of US universities and colleges reported a decline in international applications across all programmes. The biggest decline in applications was from the Middle East, according to the survey by American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

However, Young said this new trend was not solely due to the geopolitical events, saying “the reasons candidates are choosing Rotman continue to be the same reasons.”

Young’s school reports a 34 percent increase in foreign applicants in 2016, on top of an already strong increase of 20 percent over 2015. Despite this, the school will not be expanding its cohort, leading it to have to make some “difficult decisions” in rejecting some qualified applicants.

Same goes for the Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, which saw an increase of 20 percent for their MBA applications.

“It’s a wonderful problem to have,” Young said.

Whereas at the University of New Brunswick, the business school is looking to expand its MBA intake by 20 per cent to cater to the bigger pool of applicants, which are coming from China where the school has aggressively marketed to and South America for unexpected reasons.

More applicants are also paying non-refundable deposits to the school although they may not be accepted.

This spike in applications comes as the country’s business schools fell in top-tier rankings, including the one by Financial Times, due to the weight given to MBA graduate salaries in the rankings. Business graduates make less in Canada than in London or on Wall Street.

But with the political events forecasting a dim future for foreign students in the US and UK, Canada is now seen to offer better prospects.

Although London-based education consultant Andrew Crisp cautions these prospective students would still want to be reassured studying there will lead to good jobs in the future, Crisp maintains “there is certainly an opportunity there”.

“Regarding inclusivity, all [our] business schools are extremely welcoming,” the Association of MBAs in Canada president Amir Muradali told Barrons.

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