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Why advertising matters now more than ever for business schools

Business schools see a rise in applications as students look to upskill in a volatile job market

Key points:

  • All of the top 10 higher EDU schools have reported an increase in applications compared with 2019
  • Impressions of business schools' digital advertisements in Europe dropped since Q4 2019
  • During these challenging times, there is an opportunity for business schools to strengthen their brand and stand out from the competition

As a record number of students across Europe are choosing to go back to school to get a business master's degree, now is the time for higher education institutions to get ahead of their competitors.

Research carried out by Fundamental Media into the effects of Covid-19 on business schools found that all of the top 10 higher EDU schools have reported an increase in applications compared with 2019.

Increase in applications for top schools

Chicago Booth, Imperial College London, London Business School (LBS), HEC Paris, ESSEC Business School and Stockholm School of Economics all reported a record rise, with HEC reporting the highest growth in applicants from China and India at 59% and 37% respectively. German and Italian application also doubled.

LBS said it was able to enrol more students because of working remotely or hybrid instruction and it has extended interview deadlines for this year's cohort due to a record rise in MBA applications.

UK business schools have also recorded a jump in MBA applications. Oxford Said have reported a 35% increase year-on-year with more applications coming from overseas than previous years.

Warwick saw its MBA applications increase by 56%. It expanded its intake to 137 students of which 105 were from outside of the UK and EU, compared to 91 overseas students out of a cohort of 119 students in 2019.

Although Imperial saw a greater volume of applications for its MBA programme, an increase of 41%, the school is taking on 56 students compared to 70 last year. INSEAD saw its MBA applications increase by 58%, but enrolled its smallest class in years as it will hold all its MBA classes in person with proper social distancing measures in place.

Why business schools should not stop advertising

With the increased interest in MBAs, it would make sense for business schools to stay ahead of the competition and try to attract more applicants to their MBA programme. However, data from Fundamental Monitor shows that business schools' advertising has in fact reduced during Covid-19.

Impressions of business schools' digital advertisements in Europe dropped from more than 130 million in Q4 2019 to only 36.7 million in Q2 2020 and 21.4 million in Q3 2020.

By halting their marketing activity, business schools do not only lose an edge on their competitors, but they also risk damaging their brand. Research by Millward Brown found that 60% of the brands that stopped advertising during an economic downturn saw 'brand use' decrease by 24% and 'brand image' by 28%. Furthermore, Kantar estimates that brands who go silent to save costs will see a 39% reduction in brand awareness and delay recovery after Coronavirus.

During these challenging times, there is an opportunity for business schools to strengthen their brand and stand out from the crowd. Now that many of their competitors have gone quiet, Bus Ed institutions can increase their share of voice and start off their marketing campaigns for the coming year with a bang.

All advertising data comes from Fundamental Monitor, an innovative technology tool developed by Fundamental Media providing real-time insights into the advertising campaigns by L&D institutions across the globe.

Insights Media buying and planning Why advertising matters now more than ever for business schools