Hong Kong remains among the world’s top ten preferred places to obtain an MBA, but the city’s position is being challenged, notably by India, Singapore and Australia.
These are among the findings of the annual survey of prospective students conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), which oversees the GMAT exam.
The results of the survey, which was released in April, are based on demographic data of more than 240,000 people who took the GMAT in the 2013 test year (from mid-2012 to mid-2013), as well as answers from a sample of around 12,000 respondents who registered onmba.com as prospective students of graduate business and management courses.
On a global basis, a majority - 70 per cent of respondents - still name the United States as their destination of choice for graduate-level business studies. Hong Kong came sixth behind Britain, Canada, France and India. The main reasons given for choosing Hong Kong were the reputation of the city’s educational system, good preparation for a career, and the attractive location. However, these are common reasons for other top ten destinations too. For both Singapore and Australia, which ranked eighth and ninth respectively, improved chances of an international career were cited as a key reason for choosing to study in those countries
The commentary with the survey noted that the growth and diversification of graduate management education has created a highly competitive environment, particularly among business schools in Asia. There were also some surprising findings about Chinese students. Between 2009 and 2013, there was an average 22 per cent increase each year in the number of Chinese citizens taking the GMAT. Interestingly, those numbers are mostly explained by the increase in women aged under 25 taking the test.
More business students look to Australia for graduate-level education.
Last year, close to 53,000 Chinese citizens took GMAT exams, of whom 79 per cent were under 25 and 17 per cent were aged between 25 to 30. It should be noted, though, that someone can take the test more than once during the year. In addition, 64 per cent of these tests were taken by women. This is markedly different from other countries. For example, the ratio of test takers in the United States was 62:38 and, in India, it was 74:26 with men representing the higher number in both cases.
In considering motivations, the survey found that young women in China were seeking better job opportunities and the chance to grow their business skills. They also wanted to increase their chances for a higher salary and of building an international career. Similar feedback, though, was received from all countries.
Furthermore, it was found that most people taking that test in China did not intend to apply for an MBA. Their more common aim was to pursue a master of finance or master of accounting degree.
In most other major countries and regions, the MBA is the more sought after qualification. Over 70 per cent of prospective students in the US, Canada, India and Africa intended to take an MBA.