MBA Applicants from Emerging Markets: Currency Fluctuation is not a Blip but a trend that can last for two years

MBA and Currency Fluctuation

The currency fluctuation in emerging markets is not only a concern for Foreign Investors but also for MBA Students entering the 2013 Fall Class.

The markets that have been affected are India, South Africa, and Brazil. Over the past two years, the stability of the currency in these regions have taken a big hit, adding to the cost of MBA program.

Scholarships and school assisted loan program in the host country has become crucial in selecting one school over the other.

US Dollar vs. Indian Rupee
Indian Rupee vs Dollar
US Dollar vs. South African Rand

South African Rand vs Dollar
US Dollar vs. Brazilian Real
Brazilian Real vs Dollar

For students from emerging markets, currency fluctuation is another worry apart from the following:

Post MBA Jobs

Indian students are among the 3rd largest group that pursue management education from top Business Schools in Europe and US. A large percentage of the students are from Middle Class families, taking the MBA route as a mean to jump-start their career. The risks are already higher for students from these regions, especially when the visa norms in UK and US are becoming much more stringent, and the possibility of better return on investment diminished if they have to return immediately after the MBA program.

Scholarship Criteria

When you compare the average GMAT scores in India over the past five years, it has steadily increased from 568 to 582, and the scores are likely to increase with better GMAT preparation, and the rise in number of GMAT prep companies. A major criterion that Business Schools consider before offering scholarships to foreign students is the GMAT score.

Most applicants are aware that a GMAT 700 score is just a cut off for most scholarships. The competition is high for scholarships. Students have to create a compelling case on how their contribution would be valuable to the school and the community. They should also meet the individual conditions and requirements of each scholarship sponsors.

Low Attrition Rate

Although MBA programs opens up opportunities in mid-level managerial positions, the attrition rate in global companies have gone down over the past three years in these positions, primarily due to poor market demand, and risk averseness of employees. Age contributes to these trends as managers in mid-level positions are planning or have already started their family, and the risk-reward ratio is much higher for switching jobs.

For MBAs fresh out of schools, the competition is not just with other MBAs but also with existing qualified managers in the company and applicants with better experience who are also eyeing for the same position at a much lower expected salary.


1) Students from emerging markets have to research further and shortlist schools that can offer scholarship, or partial tuition fee funding.

2) With changing fundamentals in emerging markets, it is likely that the currency trends are not going to reverse in the next two years. Therefore, shortlist regions that have better visa provision for foreign students.

3) Find out schools with a pro-active career service team and MBA programs with greater reputation among recruiters in the world.

4) Find out schools that offer a customizable MBA curriculum, and provide a comprehensive experiential learning experience.

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