Like everyone else on the Oxford Said MBA programme (using UK English here) mailing list, I received this gem of bureaucratic lies in my email today:
"In light of the recent changes to the UK Border Agency VISA entry regulations and following a high number of requests from candidates, the Saïd Business School has extended the MBA application deadline for October 2011 entry to 10 June 2011."- http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/degrees/mba/Pages/process.aspx
Said's last deadline was supposed to have been April 1st. The fact that they ADDED AN EXTRA DEADLINE is for a very simple reason: They have not filled their class. The above message is total bullshit. No program adds an additional deadline like this unless it is because they don't have enough qualified warm bodies to fill the October 2011 entry. The recent changes to UK Border Agency VISA entry regulations, which would make post-MBA employment in the UK more difficult for international students, (See http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/apr2011/bs20110415_661713.htm) has likely reduced the number of applicants to Oxford. According to the aforementioned Businessweek article:
"The new government restrictions and the debate in the media that has whirled around them over the past few months have caused concern among overseas applicants, especially those who want to work in the U.K. for a period of time after they graduate, say career services directors at U.K. schools. Many applicants have expressed worry that it will be tougher to find a job and, as a result, some schools have seen dips in applications this year. In an Association of MBAs survey of 47 accredited business schools conducted this January, 97 percent of responding schools said they believed continued restrictions on student visas are likely to affect their enrollment numbers."
It does not help Said to have TOEFL and IELTS score minimums (See here) that bar most likely applicants from East Asia. Combine that HBS level requirement with the above visa changes that will more likely negatively impact applicants from South Asia, and it is easy to imagine why the Oxford MBA programme would be having a problem.
I did not know that a school such as Oxford would change its policies because of a high number of requests, but it is so nice to know that they are open to changing their policies. :)
I think it is both pathetic and laughable that one of the world's most respected brands in higher education (Not necessarily in B-school) has to engage in such obvious lying. I guess times are tough and rounding up enough qualified students for the Class of 2012 is proving difficult. In some sense, this should not really be a surprise given that Oxford declined from 27th (2008) to 47th (2009) to 71st (2010) in The Economist rankings. Of course, Oxford rose in the FT rankings from 20th (2009) to 16th (2010), but it had been 19th (2008), so I guess you could say it is fluctuating. To the extent that rankings matter, I guess potential applicants to Said have to compare The Economist's significant declining ranking versus the generally positive ranking from the FT. Caveat emptor!
The problem with UK schools (and most non-US B-schools, IMD being a key exception) is that they lack any transparency in their admissions processes. They don't report acceptance rates, yields, or anything but very vague statements about the relative difficulty of admission. If Said was required to report its actual acceptance rates and yield, perhaps its MBA admissions staff would think twice about lying to potential applicants.
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