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Data & Trends

European Business Schools on the Rise

The United States remains the top destination for aspiring business school students, but GMAT score sending trends indicate that European business schools are drawing more students from both within and outside the continent.

For the testing year ending June 30, 2010, European schools received more than 85,000 GMAT scores, an increase of 90 percent, or about 40,000 score reports from five years prior. The total number of GMAT scores sent worldwide increased by only 30 percent over the same five-year period.

Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Spain remain the top European destinations, receiving about 80 percent of the GMAT scores sent. But schools in five other countries—Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, and Greece—each received more than 1,000 score reports from prospective students.

Key findings from the European Geographic Trends Report, coming out in February:

  • A majority (64 percent) of the GMAT scores sent to European business schools came from non-European examinees, especially from Indian and Chinese citizens. In fact, Indian citizens outnumbered local talent in some countries and were the leading source of talent in TY2010 for schools in Britain, France, Spain, and Switzerland.
  • Just 37 percent of scores from European test takers were sent to US schools, the first year the proportion fell below 40 percent. A decade ago, more than 60 percent of scores from European test takers went to US schools.
  • New sources of talent in Europe are emerging in Germany and Russia. Posting three years of significant growth, Germany remained the largest European citizen group in the GMAT pipeline, ahead of France. Russians became the third-largest group in Europe to take the GMAT exam, passing British citizens for the first time.

"Because European programs attract a mix of international talent, they offer students an appealing opportunity to study in a truly global classroom," said Alex Chisholm, GMAC senior research analyst. Among the top five destinations—Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland—fewer than 20 percent of scores were sent by domestic residents, he said.

In addition, more European programs are gaining international accreditation and climbing the global rankings, Chisholm said. "The fact that all the schools represented on the Financial Times 2010 ranking of the top 100 MBA programs now also use the GMAT to evaluate applicants might correspond to European growth trends observed within the GMAT student pipeline," he said. "We know from GMAC survey research that rankings serve as a leading information source for mobile students, who often are simply looking to identify quality programmes far from home."

Finally, because one-year programs dominate the European marketplace, they may be especially attractive to both students motivated to get the most they can for their money, time and energy, and those trying to time their studies strategically, he said. Graduate school may have provided a safe harbor in the weak global economy for the past two years, but today a one-year program may offer more flexibility for jumping back into the job market as employment conditions gradually improve.

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