Foreign MBA students face tougher US jobs market


Foreign MBA students are being shut out of a buoyant US jobs market for people with their qualifications because of the red tape required to hire them, business school careers advisers have warned.

Hiring of MBA graduates has risen at several leading US business schools this year, according to recently published employment reports.

But while those with American citizenship are enjoying the rewards of an increase in companies seeking MBA graduates, hiring levels among non-US students have fallen at several institutions.

At the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the proportion of American MBA students receiving at least one job offer within 90 days of graduation was 94 per cent this year, slightly up from 93 per cent in 2017.

But among overseas students the proportion was just 85 per cent this year, down from 92 per cent in 2017.

The divergence reflects employers’ caution about taking on foreign recruits because of the higher level of proof needed to secure work visas, according to Jeff McNish, assistant dean at Darden’s Career Development Center.

“Our international students are struggling,” he said. “Government policy on immigration is the only reason.”

It was a similar picture at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where 93.7 per cent of this year’s entire MBA class had accepted jobs within three months of graduation, an improvement on 91.3 per cent in the same period in 2017.

For those students with permanent US residence the percentage with jobs three months after graduation increased from 91.2 per cent last year to 94.3 per cent in 2018. But the percentage of non-US students accepting positions dipped from 91.8 per cent to 91.5 per cent.

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Beth Briggs, Stern’s assistant dean of career services, said her team had been encouraging non-US MBA students to start job hunting earlier.

The widening divide in job prospects between US nationals and overseas students is happening at schools across the country, according to research by the MBA Career Services & Employment Alliance.

Half of the schools surveyed by the Alliance in 2016 reported a decrease in hiring of international students from their full-time MBA programmes. A year later, this proportion had increased to 68 per cent.

This was despite 73 per cent of business schools reporting in 2017 that on-campus recruiting overall had increased or remained flat, according to Megan Hendricks, the Alliance’s executive director.

“There is certainly a climate that is less welcoming to international students, which is having an affect on business schools and recruitment across the board,” Ms Hendricks said.

“Companies still see the value in hiring students without permanent work authorisation from a diversity, cultural, and skills set perspective. But they are hesitant to invest the resources necessary to do so because of the uncertainty regarding visa restrictions.”

The length of time international MBA students at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business have spent looking for work before securing a job offer rose “significantly” this year, according to Sheryle Dirks, associate dean for career management.

She said ensuring students could study and work in the country of their choosing had become harder because of the “especially complex” employer sponsorship and visa rules.

“Many are conducting a dual search between the US and their home country, often leading to later offers and acceptances,” Ms Dirks added.

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Of applications to US business schools this year 39 per cent came from overseas, but numbers were down for most MBA programmes, according to MBA test administrator the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Hardest hit were the two-year full-time courses, considered the flagship course at many schools. Among US schools, 71 per cent suffered a decline in applications for these courses, GMAC claimed.



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