50 B-school deans, 13 CEOs call for change in US approach to high-skilled immigration


indica News Bureau-

Immigration is critical for productivity and growth of global economies and US is lagging, according to latest GMAC report.

Fifty deans from a cross-section of American business schools, both public and private, and 13 CEOs have signed an open letter calling for a substantial change in the approach of the United States to high-skilled immigration.

The move came at the same time as the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) unveiling its report titled ‘Early Warning Signals: Winners and Losers in the Global Race for Talent’ Wednesday.

The report examines the role of immigration 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 US, Canada, the UK, India and China, and includes the latest business school application data released by GMAC Wednesday via the Application Trends Survey Report 2019.

“Business schools are uniquely positioned to explain how 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,” said Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and chair of the GMAC board.

The GMAC is an association of leading graduate business schools worldwide with offices in China, India, Singapore, the UK and the US.

“We feel it is critical we share this information now with policy makers around the world as talent will be the most important factor in determining who wins and loses economically in the future,” Boulding continued.

“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.”

Calling attention to the particular challenges the US faces, the open letter by the business schools and CEOs expressed urgent concern that the US 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 reverse this trend, the signatories proposed some pro-growth policy reforms, including:

  • Removing ‘per-country’ visa caps, modernizing the visa-processing system, and reforming the H-1B program to make it possible for needed talent to have a reasonable chance of entering the US.
  • Creating a ‘heartland visa’ to encourage immigration into regions of the US 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.”

Founded in 1953, the GMAC seeks to create solutions for business schools and candidates to better discover, evaluate and connect with each other. It works on behalf of the schools and the graduate management education community, and guides candidates on their journey to higher education, to ensure that no talent goes undiscovered.

According to its Early Warning Signals report, which cites data from the council’s 2019 Application Trends Report, the US in 2019 experienced a 13.7% decline in international business school applications—steeper than any other country, and a drop that came amidst largely rising or stable applications everywhere else.

Canadian and European programs saw application increases, driven primarily by rising international demand. For the US, the 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 top business concern.

Canada saw an 8.6% uptick in international business school applications in 2019, a positive signal for the country’s future and mobility trends. This follows on the heels of a 16.4% increase the previous year.

Canada also gained 286,000 permanent residents in 2017 and aims to have a total of one 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.

In the UK, on the other hand, three in five firms reported experiencing a more difficult time finding talent over the previous year, and 50% expected the skills shortage to worsen. However, 61% of UK business programs reported an increase in international applications in 2019 over 2018, 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 the GMAC in March 2019.

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

Likewise, Chinese business schools saw a 6.8% increase in domestic applications this year, and domestic volumes were up year-on-year at 73% of programs. While 86% of the 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.