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Immigration Is Critical For Productivity And Growth Of Global Economies: GMAC Report

Underscoring the report, 63 deans and CEOs issue open letter calling for substantial policy change in US approach to high-skilled immigration.

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The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) unveiled Early Warning Signals: Winners and Losers in the Global Race for Talent. This comprehensive report examines the role immigration plays in fueling the productivity and growth of global economies, the need to support international mobility of talent across borders, and the critical role business schools play as gatekeepers to skilled immigration and talent development.

The report analyzes data in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and China, and includes the latest business school application data also released by GMAC today via the Application Trends Survey Report 2019.

Bill Boulding, Chair of the GMAC Board and Dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business said, "Business schools are uniquely positioned to explain how the mobility of talent connects to economic growth and vitality through our faculty research and expertise. However, as the developers of talent, we also have almost real-time data showing new trends in where talent is choosing to locate."

"We feel it is critical we share this information now with policymakers around the world as talent will be the most important factor in determining who wins and loses economically in the future. The issues we are raising are important not just in providing the opportunity to cross borders for education but also to foster robust and vibrant national economic activity," he added.

Calling attention to the particular challenges the U.S. faces, 63 CEOs and deans from a broad cross-section of business schools across the country, both public and private, have signed an open letter calling for a substantial change in the U.S. approach to high-skilled immigration. The letter expresses urgent concern that the U.S. does not have the high-skilled talent it needs or the capacity to train enough people with these skills to remain competitive in a global economy.

To prevent this trend from continuing, the signatories are proposing pro-growth policy reforms including:

  • Removing “per-country” visa caps, modernizing the visa processing system, and reforming the H-1B visa program to make it possible for needed talent to have a reasonable chance of gaining entry to the United States.
  • Creating a “heartland visa” to encourage immigration into the regions of the United States that could most use the vitality of these talented individuals.

“Quality business schools are emerging around the world and the competition for talent is fierce, the sign of a vibrant marketplace,” said Sangeet Chowfla, President and CEO of GMAC.  “Business schools don’t hold all the cards, however. Policy makers also have a responsibility to seed an environment conducive to student mobility. By doing so, they unlock innovation while helping to maintain diversity in the classroom, a critical aspect of graduate management education.”

Key Findings: 

Early Warning Signals: Winners and Losers in the Global Race for Talent provides a look into the current flow of talent into specific countries, citing data from GMAC’s 2019 Application Trends Report, an annual snapshot of admissions trends for graduate business programs. Regions in which students desire to study are likely to be the winners in economic development because they are attracting talent—which has implications for homegrown talent as well by creating hubs of innovation and economic growth.

View of India

A view of business school application data shows that the movement of talent from India to other parts of the world continues, with increasing interest in domestic schools. The percentage of Indians sending their scores from the GMAT exam to United States business schools fell from 57 percent in testing year 2014 to 45 percent in testing year 2018, according to the most recent GMAC data. During that same period, the percentage of Indian GMAT test takers sending their test scores to Indian schools rose from 15 percent to 19 percent.

View of the United States

In 2019, the United States experienced a 13.7 percent decline in international business school applications—a steeper decline than any other country in the world, and a drop that came amidst largely rising or stable applications everywhere else in the world. Conversely, both Canadian and European programs saw application increases, which were driven primarily by rising international demand. For the US, these numbers are a worrisome indicator for the future mobility of talent—especially for business leaders who now cite the hiring and retention of talent as their number one business concern. 

View of Canada

As a positive signal for the country’s future mobility trends, Canada saw an 8.6 percent uptick in international business school applications in 2019—a positive signal for the country’s future and mobility trends ahead. This follows on the heels of a 16.4 percent increase in the prior year. Canada also gained 286,000 permanent residents in 2017 and aims to have a total of 1 million new residents by 2021—with a focus on high-skilled labor. This positions the nation to yield economic benefits in the years and decades to come.

View of the UK

Three in five UK firms reported experiencing a more difficult time finding talent over the previous year, and 50 percent expected the UK’s skills shortage to worsen further in the future. However, 61 percent of UK business programs reported an increase in international applications in 2019 over the prior year, and the share of Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score reports sent to UK programs has increased slightly since 2016, according to a report released by GMAC in March of 2019. 

View of China

According to GMAC’s Application Trends Survey Report 2019, Chinese business schools saw a 6.8 percent increase in domestic applications this year, and domestic volumes were up year-on-year at 73 percent of programs. While 86 percent of applicants to these programs currently come from within the region, the rising profile of China’s business schools could begin to attract a more global pool of candidates. China is now home to six of the Financial Times' Global Top 50 MBA programs, including the fifth-ranked overall school, China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS). In 2009, just two of the top 100 were in China.

To download the GMAC white paper, Early Warning Signals: Winners and Losers in the Global Race for Talent, click here.

For the Application Trends Survey Report 2019, click here.


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