Business schools around the world enjoyed a double-digit increase in the number of MBA applications and enrolments between 2015 and 2016, a survey has found.

The survey, conducted by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), showed that the average number of applications per MBA programme rose by 10% between 2015 and 2016, while the average enrolment per programme increased by 24% in this period, the Times Higher Education reported.

The findings, which were based on a survey of 223 AMBA-accredited business schools across the world, mark the second consecutive year of growth in applications, following a five-year decline.

Between 2014 and 2015, there was a 5% increase in the number of applications for AMBA-accredited programmes, based on the schools that completed the 2016 survey.

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Looking at all AMBA-accredited business schools that submitted data between 2009 and 2014, the average number of applications and enrolments per programme fell by 44% and 8%, respectively, it added.

The 2017 Application and Enrolment Report also found that while the gender balance was still weighted towards men, business schools have been progressing in securing more women on to MBA programmes. The proportion of applications from women rose by four percentage points to 37% between 2013 and 2016, and the share of women enrolling rose by two percentage points to 35% over this time. However, this share is much lower in some nations, with just 10% of applications to business schools in India coming from women.

Will Dawes, AMBA research and insight manager and author of the study, told the Times Higher Education that business schools had previously suffered from the “period of considerable global economic uncertainty” but the recent growth reflected their “ability to innovate” and “adapt to the market”.

Many MBA programmes are now much more flexible in terms of course delivery, he said, with “modular programmes” allowing students to maintain their careers and earn a degree quickly without attending classes full-time. Business schools also have a “more global outlook”, including more study-abroad opportunities and “further development of international campuses”, he added.

The report also features an analysis focusing on a group of 90 business schools, on which AMBA has collected data each year since 2011.

This showed rises in the average number of applications in the five years to 2016 across those institutions in eastern Europe (77%), Africa (48%), North America (25%) and western Europe (13%), while there have been falls in Oceania (down 17%) and the UK (16%).

In terms of average enrolments, there has been growth in Africa (56%), eastern Europe (56%) and Oceania (15%), but falls in western Europe (down 19%) and the UK (8%), it added.

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But Dawes said that it was important to note that figures on international campuses of business schools might have been attributed to the host country rather than the institution’s country of origin.

Overall, the regional breakdown “reflects the global shake-out” of the business school sector and the “prominence of Chinese, European, and Latin American business schools”, he said.

Source: Times Higher Education