Editorial Team

Shiksha, a part of Info Edge Limited and one of India’s leading career and college selection website for students, recently conducted asurvey on MBA aspirants titled MBA Outlook 2021 that traces trends on preferences that are gaining traction among Indian students aspiring to pursue higher education in India. This survey report released by Shiksha provides insights to students and institutions to uncover the deep learning based on changing behaviour and preferences.

The MBA Outlook report provides an overview of popular MBA entrance exams in India, with a particular focus on top locations in the country for students who want to pursue MBA. The report also focuses on top specialisations, browsing behaviour of students and what do they look for when choosing a B-school in India.

Vivek Jain, Chief Business Officer, Shiksha.com

Mr. Vivek Jain, Chief Business Officer, Shiksha.com says, We conducted this survey MBA Outlook to understand the changing dynamics, trends and preferences of MBA aspirants during and after the pandemic. We believe the survey conducted by Shiksha will help management institutes across India to define new strategies depending on MBA aspirants’ behaviour.”

MBA Outlook 2021, conducted by Shiksha, highlights 9 different facets of what MBA aspirants want. These are:

  1. Apart from CAT, MAT and CMAT are gaining popularity for MBA students across India

According to report,overall preference for CAT, XAT, SNAP, MICAT, IRMASAT and SPJAT increased by minimum 10% in 2020 when compared to 2019 while preference for exams such as NMAT, IBSAT and IIFT declined by nearly 12-25% in 2020 over 2019.

While taking insights about popular regional MBA entrance exams, it has been observed that besides CAT, MAT was a popular exam in North in 2020, followed by SNAP by Symbiosis, CMAT, XAT, NMAT by NMIMS and IBSAT by ICFAI. Few entrance exams, including IBSAT, SRMJEEM, LPUNEST, SPJAT, UPESMET and SMAT, witnessed an increased preference in 2020 over last year in North.

Similar to 2019 trends, CAT in 2020 also remained less popular in South India when compared to other regions. Beyond CAT and MAT, state entrance exams, such as Karnataka PGCET, TSICET and TANCET, maintained their popular in South India in 2020. While in Eastern India, CAT, MAT, XAT, CMAT, SNAP by Symbiosis, NMAT by NMIMS, IBSAT by ICFAI and OJEEE were the most popular exams in 2020; MAH-CET was the most popular entrance exam in 2020 in the western region, followed by CAT. Other popular exams in Western India included CMAT, MAT, SNAP by Symbiosis, XAT and NMAT by NMIMS. In case of Central India, both CAT and CMAT were equally popular in Central India during 2020, followed by MAT and SNAP by Symbiosis. Private entrance exams like XAT, NMAT by NMIMS and IBSAT by ICFAI were also equally popular.

It was observed that most of the regional exams have had overall neutral performance with marginal increase/decrease in 2020 over the last year.

When aspirants from different regions were asked about number of MBA entrance exams they have appeared for, the numbers unveiled are:

  • In North, 98% students appeared for up to 8 entrance exams in 2020
  • Students from West, East and South regions appeared for a maximum of 6
  • Average count of entrance exams student in South India appeared for in 2020 increased by 14%, when compared to 2019
  1. Large cities or home states are preferred college location

According to MBA Outlook report, aspirants from East, North and Central India, in 2020, preferred large cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai instead of their home state or town while looking for MBA colleges. On the other hand, aspirants from West and South India preferred their home state and/ or home townoverlarge cities like Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai while looking for MBA colleges in 2020.

Students across all the regions showed an inclination towards colleges in their home state instead of neighbouring states in their own region.

  1. Students prefer MBA colleges in large cities in region of their residence

When asking aspirants from West India about preference of location for MBA colleges, it was observed that large cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai and Ahmedabad witnessed negative relative lift, whereas cities like Pune and Nagpur witnessed positive lift. In 2019, 33% of the students showed preference for MBA colleges based out of Mumbai. This number reduced to 27% in 2020. Additionally, in 2020, Nagpur and Chennai gained popularity over Indore and Surat.

Responses from aspirants from East India showed that in 2020, southern cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad became less popular among students from East of India to pursue MBA when compared to 2019. On the other hand, cities, including Delhi, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Lucknow, gained popularity y-o-y.

On the other hand, the reports from Central Indiaindicatedthat Pune replaced Indore as the top choices for students of Central India for studying MBA in 2020. On the contrary, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai witnessed a y-o-y dip. Additionally, a trend of showed Chennai emerging as a prominent location for studying MBA among students from Central India.

Whereas as in 2019, students from South India wanted to study MBA in the same region in 2020. Students showed lower affinity for cities like Coimbatore, Mumbai and Delhi, when compared to 2019. For students in North India, Chandigarh emerged as one of the highest gainers in terms of preference in 2020. On the other hand, prime cities, like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune, witnessed a drop in preference in the pandemic year when compared to 2019.

  1. Ranking & fees are key for students searching for an MBA college

Similar to 2019, college reviews, admission requirements, college rankings and fee & scholarships were among the information that were most wanted by students to make a guided decision. Information on programmes offered and alumni success stories were also frequently required by students when researching.

Shiksha has more than 2.1 lakh authentic college reviews on its platform with dedicated pages on college admission.

  1. Apart from Finance, Marketing is emerging as a popular MBA specialisation

As per the Shiksha MBA outlook 2021 survey report, MBA in Finance, like 2019, led the charts in 2020 as well with highest preference among aspirants from North, South and Central India.

Preference for Marketing, Human Resources and Operations reduced when compared to 2019, whereas specialisations like Business Analytics and IT & Systems gained preference.

New emerging specialisations like Entrepreneurship, Agriculture & Food Business and Healthcare & Hospital, also gained popularity.

  1. Newspaper, Student fairs and family/friends loose out to college portals and search engines

While looking at the Shiksha MBA Outlook 2021 report, the growing share of online platforms as against the traditional channels in 2020 signified changing consumer behaviour. This showed that students are now moving towards online platforms for credible information.Besides Google, official college website and college listing/ranking sites were the strongest platforms for searching information about college. Due to COVID-19 and lockdowns, acceptance for online webinars and social media platforms increased significantly.

The report also showed that y-o-y preference for social media has increased whereas family/friends has declined.

  1. Current MBA students are most preferred to get admission-related information

The data in the report unveiled that the trend of interaction with current students of the college remained the top choice to get more information and resolve their doubts and confusions,as it was in 2019.

For marketing purposes, it has been recommended for colleges to introduce interactive sessions for prospective students with current students, college alumni and professor/faculty.

Comparedto 2019, preference for interaction with counsellors also increased this year. Trained counsellors with an agenda to build trust instead of selling turned out to be a valuable asset for colleges in converting for admissions.

Shiksha has more than 2,350 campus ambassadors across 1,100+ top universities and colleges in India, who address student doubts and queries related to admission in their respective colleges and courses.

  1. Weak placements negatively impact a student’s preference of choosing an MBA college

When enquiring the MBA aspirants, it was observedthat unlike last year, weak placements emerged as one of the top concerns along with college ranking & accreditation for the students planning to take admission in 2020. These were also considered the biggest challenges before taking admission in an MBA college.

While concerns such as financial requirements, industry exposure, teaching faculty and skill learning & student development marginally improved over the last year, concerns like inadequate infrastructure, weak college brand and language barrier grew significantly this year, especially in West, East and South India.

  1. Placement & internship opportunities are key value-adds when choosing an MBA college

As per the report, similar to 2019, placement opportunities were still the top value-add that students were looking for in an MBA college in 2020 followed by fee/scholarship programmes, experienced faculty, work-ex while studying, and industry-expert sessions held similar positions compared to the last year with few exceptions in certain regions.

The report also revealeda visible drop in parameters such as skill development infrastructure & programme, practical classes, certification programmes, location of college and corporate exposure in 2020 when compared to 2019 while there was a considerable positive lift witnessed in value-adds like internship opportunities and budget for start-ups in 2020.

Mr. Vivek Jainfurther elaborated, “Management has emerged as a clear differentiator for both students and working professionals looking at making a mark in their careers. A management degree not only helps in upskilling and moving up the corporate ladder, but opens diverse career avenues to be explored, along with increased opportunities of working with larger organisations. Students and working professionals who complete MBA from India are the most in-demand not just within the country but globally as well.”

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