There are many reasons why students may want to pursue admission to a foreign B-school, but getting a work visa to improve one’s standard of living should not be one of them.
Let’s take Brazil for example. The country has been paralysed by open political warfare for more than a year and unemployment surged to 11.6% in the three months through July, from 6.5% at the end of 2014. More than 1.7 million Brazilians have lost their jobs in the last year.
But not everyone is suffering from Brazil’s political and economic crisis. International MBA programmes, for example, are benefitting. Since last year, when the domestic turmoil reached a high, business schools abroad have been seeing a significant increase in the number of Brazilians interested in their programmes.
The growth is part of a trend that has been firming up over the last few years — from 2011 to 2015, GMAT registrations by Brazilians were up 27%, with the crisis accelerating the process.
Many of those who gained admission to a B-school abroad seem to enjoy life overseas. According to Rick Rudolph, leader of recruiting and admissions of the MBA programme at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), told the Valor Economico daily newspaper that many of the school’s Brazilian students decide to stay in the Netherlands longer than initially planned.
In the beginning of the course, they are usually very patriotic and talk of returning to invest in Brazil, start businesses. Over time, the market’s attractiveness makes them change ideas and want to stay a few years before returning.
Rudolph warns, however, that some candidates opt for the MBA for the “wrong reasons”, pointing out that RSM avoids admitting professionals who are undergoing a career crisis or who are only thinking about the next salary and job. Those candidates who see executive education only as a means of obtaining a work visa are also in this category.
The B-schools are alert to professionals with a profile considered opportunistic. Daniela Mendez, representative of Spain’s IE Business School in Brazil, says:
The selection process is very elaborate. There are restrictions of experience, language, potential and even age in some courses. The Brazilian who is admitted at the school has all these characteristics — the crisis is only one of the items that can motivate more people to seek executive education.
In the past year, the increase in demand among Brazilians for foreign programmes was significant and strongly related to the lack of opportunities in the country, says Mauricio Betti, head of consultancy at MBA Empresarial. Since 2015, he says, new profiles of candidates have been emerging: professionals who are not very familiar with the MBA programmes and their admission processes, but who see executive training as a possibility of emigrating and opening new career opportunities. He points out that:
In many countries, the student has a special stay visa after the course, and this attracts those who seek an international repositioning.
In the US, for example, people who conclude an MBA programme can stay for an extra year for optional practical work — and then stay legally in the country if they find an employer ready to sponsor them. In Europe, some countries offer flexible conditions for staying to professionals who have recently obtained MBA degrees.
The Netherlands has a special programme that offers tax incentives to dissuade skilful migrants from leaving the country. The fact that it has a more stable economic climate and an attractive labour market also appeals to Brazilians, says Rudolph, the MBA admissions head at RSM. This year, the school saw a record number of applications from Brazil: six times more than in 2015. In the previous five years, the total growth in applications was 19%.
It’s only natural for these countries to seek to retain MBA talent. However, prospective students should understand that admissions officers are not easily fooled. What they want to see are candidates who can demonstrate self-knowledge and a sound motivation behind the decision to pursue an MBA degree. Opportunists are typically rejected by B-Schools.
Source: Valor Economico