I am writing this in the Starbucks at Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International Airport, having spent the last few days in Shanghai and Beijing meeting candidates interested in the Cambridge MBA. Asia is an important strategic focus for the Cambridge MBA and I spend at least a month each year travelling through major economic centres in Asia.
Understandably, there have been a fair amount of questions about the impact of Brexit on the Cambridge MBA. Most candidates understand that there won’t be any immediate changes as a result of the referendum but they are of course keen to know what the longer-term impact will be.
As this point in time, it is anyone’s guess what will happen since there have been no news of formal negotiations starting between the UK and the EU. Nonetheless, I have told candidates the following :-
a. top employers that I have spoken to after the referendum have said that the vote will not change their recruitment plans. As global companies, they are always looking for global talent, and they are very used to applying for visas according to local laws.
b. the Cambridge MBA is a global programme. We attract a global student body and our MBAs pursue global careers after they graduate. While a good number of our MBAs stay in the UK to work or start companies after their studies, many of them will switch countries after several years. They are able to make these career switches because of what they experienced during their one year in Cambridge, the academic knowledge and soft skills that they acquired while here, and the networks that they have built.
c. the UK Home Office has shown, after the referendum, that they will adopt a nuanced approach to immigration. Soon after the referendum vote, the Home Office chose Cambridge as one of four UK universities where our non-EU Masters students (including MBAs and MFins) will be able to stay in the UK for up to six months after the completion of their studies. The previous policy, which will continue to apply to other UK universities, only allowed non-EU students a stay of four months after the completion of their studies. The new policy is intended to help universities such as Cambridge attract top students and give these students more opportunities to find employment in the UK after graduation so that they can make significant contributions to the British economy.
These points taken together lead me to believe that the Cambridge MBA can build on its current strong position. Already the MBA 2015 class is showing very strong employment outcomes and we are on track to admit the largest Cambridge MBA class ever. The new MBA 2016 class will also benefit from some enhancements that we have made to the programme and careers provision, following consultation with top employers about the skills that MBAs will need in the next five years. Key changes include new core classes in digital business, entrepreneurship and Business in Society; and more customised case practice workshops for our students. It promises to be an exciting time for our students, the MBA team and myself.