Monday, April 18, 2011

GMAT targets smaller cities as candidate trends shift

India’s management education market has matured to an extent that the owner of the graduate management aptitude test (GMAT), a widely used gateway to MBA programmes, is planning test centres in smaller cities such as Coimbatore and Visakhapatnam.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a US-based association of business schools, in February opened an India office, its third overseas establishment after London and Hong Kong. The council seeks to work in close collaboration with top domestic business schools, Ashish Bhardwaj, Regional Director, South Asia, said in an interview.

The scope of management education is changing in India. "One important trend is that the trend of preferring one destination is changing," Bhardwaj said. "Historically, the preference was to go to the US. Now, the US is still number one (for Indians wanting to doan MBA abroad), but Asia has come up strongly. Fifteen percent of GMAT scores Indian candidates send are to Indian B-schools. Destinations like Singapore have become visible."

GMAT scores by Indians sent to US universities dropped sharply to 54.84% in 2010 from nearly 76% in 2006, he said. Last year, Indians sent 6.77% of their GMAT scores to Singapore institutes, almost double than five years ago. Bhardwaj added that Indian aspirants are increasingly applying to top Indian B-schools through GMAT, which has risen to 14.34% last year compared with 9.3% in 2006.

Though students are still applying in US universities, admission to local institutes are also being preferred by many, he said. GMAT is accepted by 45 Indian B-schools for over 105 programmes. The council, which aims to reach out to nearly 300 management schools in the country, says GMAT will also allow international students to enter Indian classrooms.

Bhardwaj said that beyond the six metros, the council has opened test centres in Patna, Ranchi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Allahabad, Pune and Kochi. "We are looking at Visakhapatnam and evaluating Coimbatore," he said. "In the west, we are evaluating Nagpur, and in the north, Lucknow."

Though the number of students taking GMAT dropped in 2010, Bhardwaj said there was a similar drop in people taking the Common Admission Test (CAT), necessary to gain admission to the premier Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

"My understanding in the drop is that it is an industry-specific drop. We have had relentless growth in last five years. Five years back, we delivered 9,000 tests in India. Last year, we gave 18,900 tests," he said. "With this kind of fantastic growth, there has to be a correction."

Source: Mint, April 18, 2011

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