GMAC Viewpoints: Growing the Student Pipeline in Africa
Many factors make Africa an important long-term investment in the graduate management education pipeline.
As we discussed in this space last month, we at GMAC are focused on and committing resources to communicating the benefits of a graduate management education to college undergraduates to nurture and grow a larger pool of candidates for our client graduate schools. As we look at the global student pipeline, many factors make Africa an important long-term investment.
Positive middle-class growth projections, an increased public sector investment in education, and a rise in the number of citizens in the 25-29 age range, the sweet spot of prospective b-school candidates, are all contributing to a favorable climate for increased enrollment of African students in graduate business programs in Africa and abroad.
Add to that the fact that we’re seeing significant demand for African candidates both abroad and domestically. Schools in the US with Africa outreach programs seek qualified candidates, while schools in Africa are looking to recruit candidates from the Continent. GMAC respects and seeks to address the needs of both groups of schools through concerted efforts to create a larger well-qualified pool of African candidates overall.
Our Current focus: challenges, opportunities, and solutions
Examples of GMAC pipeline growth-related efforts and investment in Africa include college undergraduate and graduate outreach projects in Nigeria and Kenya, and Pan-African assessment project to refine African schools’ local recruitment efforts. Projects generally are designed to increase African candidate awareness, preparedness, improve performance and/or increase access to testing and preparation materials.
In Nigeria, the largest African economy that also generated the Continent’s highest GMAT® testing volumes in 2015, average test scores have remained consistently low—often attributable to absent or inadequate GMAT preparation. Kenya has seen both diminished test volumes and performance due respectively to political unrest resulting in school closures for extended periods and lack of exposure to and/or awareness of tests of problem solving and reasoning such as the GMAT exam.
Examples of GMAC corrective measures include improved access to Official GMAT Guides—in Nigeria, via an on-line storefront run by Famolex Integrated Consult on Konga.com that speeds local delivery; and GMAT prep awareness sessions for thousands of college graduates attending National Youth Service Corps camps. A similar smaller program in Kenya incorporates GMAT Prep awareness sessions at Career Mentoring Days for Kenyan undergraduates at several area colleges under an agreement with Akad Africa Education Group.
Finally, GMAC efforts to develop a Pan-African admission test are under way with the intent to provide a quality alternative to African schools for local candidates with limited financial means. Such an assessment would not only broaden educational access, it also would provide an objective way for schools to both encourage and measure domestic student preparedness for their programs while creating a standard around which a cohesive, globally recognized community of African schools could be established.
Recognizing that African graduate management pipeline growth is likely to be slow and challenging, GMAC is invested for the long haul with a holistic approach to that promises to benefit Africa, GMAC client schools and the graduate management education community at large.
About the Author
Ron Sibert is Africa Business Development director at the Graduate Management Admission Council.