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Despite increasing demand for MBA degrees and more stringent admissions criteria in 2008, business schools are keen to attract students who can form a diverse MBA class.
To this end many B-schools are offering weird and wonderful scholarships to ensure they have an 'interesting' student mix. Potential business school students, concerned about the credit crunch and apprehensive about sacrificing their bank account balance for further education and career advancement, may have more options than they think.
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"Scholarships are an important tool for any business school to ensure a really diverse class," says Helen Dowd, admissions director at Manchester Business School. She uses her scholarship fund to attract students of different industry backgrounds and nationalities.
The Skoll scholarship at Oxford University's Said Business School is dedicated to individuals with backgrounds in 'social entrepreneurship', another increasingly popular theme amongst business schools.
TopMBA.com, the official website for the QS World MBA Tour (that organise business school information fairs), features a scholarships database with up-to-date listings of scholarships from over 150 different business schools. Scholarships on offer include those for; physical disability, demonstrated leadership, sporting ability, ethnicity and even sexual-orientation.
The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in California is using the scholarship card to reach out to the gay and lesbian population. "The Markowski-Leach Scholarship attempts to identify students who show promise of becoming positive role models for other lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) people," says Debi Fidler, director of financial aid at the Haas School of Business. According to the Markowski-Leach Scholarship website: 'selected candidates must demonstrate their dedication to excellence in their lives through service, education, or employment,' to be awarded this unique scholarship that is granted to six to eight new applicants and four to six continuing students each year.
Other unusual scholarships reward creativity, innovation, and even height and weight, for some undergraduates. Yes, that's right -- such inherited characteristics can qualify one for funding. The New England [Images] Chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, The Little People of America, and Tall Clubs International are just a few of the organisations that award scholarships based on specific physical attributes.
In total, the business schools featured on TopMBA.com offer full or partial scholarships worth in excess of a staggering $100 million. Granted, perhaps 80 per cent of these are partial scholarships; in effect a subsidy on the true cost of the MBA, but still this can make even the most expensive MBA course affordable.
London [Images] Business School fees are �44,490, yet they offer over �500,000 in partial or full scholarships sponsored by the school, their alumni, or companies -- like the new Deutsche Bank Scholarships for Women worth �20,000 for three successful female applicants each year.
Scholarships consistently rank as the most important expected source of finance for MBA applicants in emerging markets, according to the Tobmba.com Applicant Research report for 2008. This survey of almost 2,500 MBA applicants across the world indicates that Indian's are among the top 10 nationalities in search of loans to fund their studies.
The top 10 nationalities searching for loans to fund their studies
The QS Scholarship programme, run in conjunction with the QS World MBA Tour, focuses on applicants who attend the tour and have demonstrated responsible leadership and community commitment in their academic or professional careers.
Scholarships are sponsored directly by QS and also by participating business schools like Wharton, Chicago, University of Toronto and Cass Business School. "All of our winners have done something remarkable in their lives," says Zoya Zaitseva, QS Scholarship project manager.
"There are a huge number of scholarships available for aspiring MBAs," says Zaitseva, "but up until now, finding them has often meant working your way through individual school websites. Knowing what's out there is the first step."
More information on the wide range of MBA scholarships available can be found on the TopMBA.com website at www.topmba.com.
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