Bengaluru: After earning an MBA at one of the top business schools in India, 29-year-old Hariher B. already has an enviable career, working as a senior consultant in a big four consultancy firm. Still, he believes he needs an international degree to give him a career boost.

“I’m in search of challenging job roles that pay very well. And I believe a foreign education can help open the door for such exciting opportunities," said Hariher, who will start his MBA at INSEAD in Paris in August.

Hariher is among the growing number of Indians seeking a foreign business school education. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts the Graduate Management Admission Test or Gmat, on Tuesday released its 2016 Prospective Students Survey Report, and it showed that 81% of Indian students preferred to study internationally, up from 76% in 2011.

The top reasons for Indian students to go abroad include the reputation of the educational system (72%), improved chances of having an international career (68%), potential to develop an international network of peers/colleagues (53%), better preparation for their career (52%), diversity of the student body (42%), and attractiveness of the location (37%).

This comes at a time when even Indian B-schools, recognizing the allure of a foreign degree, are trying to increase their collaborations with foreign universities. In 2014, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad came together with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and University of California, Berkeley for joint research projects. Similarly, last year IIM-Bangalore said its students can take virtual lessons at Yale School of Management, London School of Economics and INSEAD.

GMAC conducted its survey among 10,000 individuals worldwide to explore the global business school pipeline from the candidates’ points of view and it found that students are also becoming very specific about the type of programmes they want to pursue and the industry they want to work in after graduating.

On average, prospective students considered 2.8 programme types in 2015, down from 3.1 in 2014. And for their postgraduate careers, 71% of those surveyed chose a single industry of interest, compared with 58% in 2014.

In addition, 61% of prospective students also specified a single job function of interest, compared with 46% in 2014.

This uptick could be a result of the economy, as prospective students may perceive it to be easier to go after their “dream job" in this market compared with the post-recession years, said Bob Alig, GMAC’s executive vice president for school products.

There has not been a change in the industries students prefer though—overall, the top industries students target for employment are similar to previous years’ findings, which includes consulting (32%), finance and accounting (31%), and products and services (25%).

Also, most students look for a blend of classroom and online learning, regardless of programme type. According to the survey, even candidates who prefer to enrol in an online MBA programme still expect 10% of their course to be delivered in the classroom to allow for networking and experiential learning opportunities.

The fees of these programmes continue to be a big concern for students.

The survey found that nearly half of prospective students are concerned that graduate business school may require more money than they have available or that they may need to take on large debts.

The total cost of education (including living expenses) at the top B-schools cost around 70 lakh.

Overall, the top 10 study destinations for students who wish to study abroad, in descending order are: the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland.

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