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Highlights from Higher Ed: Admission Rates, STEM Designations for MBA Programs and Trustee Worries

80% of lower-ranked “top 50” MBA programs increased their acceptance rate

Twenty of the 25 schools in the lower half of one “top 50” MBA-program ranking increased their acceptance rates in 2019, compared with 22 of the schools ranked in the top half. Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business reported the largest increase in the lower tier, from 44.3% in 2018 to 59.0% last year. Other significant increases were reported by Arizona State University’s Carey School of Business (20% to 31%), Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School (33% to 43.4%), Wisconsin School of Business (33.3% to 43.7%) and Purdue University Krannert School of Management (49.4% to 59.4%). However, “while the top 25 had three schools that saw actual decreases, the lower 25 had four: Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, University of Rochester Simon Business School, University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business, and Boston University Questrom School of Business.” Among the top 10 schools, the acceptance rate rose to 19.7% from 17.2%.

Source: Poets & Quants

Business schools seek STEM designations to help attract more international students

The Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Madison appears to have started a trend in 2016 when it became the first business school to have the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) classify its MBA program as a STEM program. A primary goal of obtaining a STEM designation, now shared by a growing number of MBA programs, is to attract a greater number of international students. By one estimate, international students account for 40% of the classroom population at top programs. Yet “with applications to American MBA programs falling for five years straight, business schools across the US are scrambling to find new ways to make up the lost numbers. One approach has been to focus on attracting more international students.” As a result, “leading institutions including Harvard Business School, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management… have been getting the DHS to classify their MBA programs as STEM programs.” Students on F1 visas in non-STEM programs are required to leave the country within one year of graduation. International who graduate from STEM programs, on the other hand, may be allowed to stay for up to three years by participating in an optional practical training (OPT) program.

Source: Quartz at Work

The benefits of less education?

Researchers at Georgetown University have concluded that, “less education can often be worth more.” In a report titled, “The Overlooked Value of Certificates and Associate’s Degrees: What Students Need to Know Before They Go to College,” they explain that “some certificate holders can earn more than those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and some associate’s degree holders can earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree. In other words, certificates and associate’s degrees — credentials on the middle-skills pathway — can be viable routes to economic opportunity.” Part of the reason may be that most associate’s degrees (57%) and certificates (94%) are awarded in career-oriented fields. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded by U.S. colleges annually (approximately two million) is roughly the same as the number of certificates and associate’s degrees awarded each year (approximately one million each).

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

The vast majority of college trustees are worried about the future of higher ed

In 2018, 73% of college trustees said they were “worried about the sector over the next decade.” By 2019, that number had grown to 85%. Their top concerns included schools’ fiscal health and costs faced by students. The increasing anxiety “comes as reports show growing public doubt in the value of higher ed and as lawmakers lay out sweeping proposals to lower the cost of attending college.” Looking ahead, the ongoing struggle with declining enrollment numbers “is likely to accelerate around 2026, when the number of high school graduates is expected to sharply decline.”

Source: Education Dive