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December 17, 2010


Following Oxford Said's introduction of severely high English requirements for 2010 entry, Cambridge Judge will be getting even more severe than Oxford for 2012 entry.

Oxford Said introduced new English level minimums for entry beginning in 2010:

Minimum score
TOEFL - Internet 109
TOEFL - Computer 267
TOEFL - Paper 630

In April, I commented as follows:
For applicants, especially those coming from countries where getting a 109 or higher is difficult (Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan being the ones that immediately come to my mind), this is good and bad news. It is clearly bad news for those with scores under 109 because clearly Oxford is no longer an option. For East Asians with TOEFL scores over 109,  suddenly the number of highly competitive applicants coming from their region is likely to drop significantly.

I think this is especially unfortunate for my clients in Japan, not only because it will eliminate many strong applicants from applying, but because it will likely damage the ability of Oxford to build a strong network here. Given the large percentage of company-sponsored applicants who don't have TOEFL 109 level English,  I think it is fair to say that Oxford will see a significantly reduced number of Japanese with strong professional backgrounds in the coming years.

In fact, the number of Japanese at Oxford has gone down and they are all, obviously very advanced English speakers.   Oxford is no longer a viable option for many candidates who would have considered it, but find all top US schools (except HBS), INSEAD, LBS, and IMD (GMAT score only) better options both in terms of rank and barrier to entry. 
Not to be outdone, Cambridge will be introducing new standards of required English ability for entry in 2012:

110 TOEFL! Congratulations Cambridge, you are about to have the world's highest TOEFL requirement of any MBA program!  This is a bold experiment in exclusivity designed to radically reduce non-native English speakers without extensive international experience.    I know there is a Cambridge/Oxford rivalry, but.. 

By the way, for those applying for 2011 entry, the old Cambridge requirements-
-are still in place, but I bet they will be making it tougher than these numbers indicate. 

As far as UK schools go, London Business School, with its very flexible entry requirements and top rank, proves that exclusivity per se is not the best way to be recognized as a Top B-School.  For applicants who want to experience real diversity while getting the top B-school experience in the UK, I predict that LBS will be the only game in town.  For those who want to experience working with only fully bilingual/bi-cultural candidates,  Oxford and Cambridge should be your targets.  Each option has its advantages (real diversity versus fluency) and disadvantages (inefficiency versus experiencing the kind of diversity that is the part of working with those who really don't share your linguistic and/or cultural assumptions).

-Adam Markus
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