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Challenges Increase For Business Schools As Applicants Adopt Multi-Platform Research Approach

As the number of platforms and resources available to potential MBA students increases, QS Quacquarelli Symonds have today provided business schools with inclusive insight into the platforms applicants use when researching and choosing schools.

The research, published today by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, shows that 69% of prospective MBA students rate social media platforms as being either quite important, very important, or essential when conducting research into their educational futures.

Of these social media channels, Facebook and LinkedIn are deployed the most often, with 46% and 45% of respondents respectively citing them as a relevant part of their research. This reflects the status of the former as the world’s most popular social media network, and the status of the latter as the site of choice for networking professionals. More surprisingly, however, only 10% of respondents cited Twitter as a preferred platform – behind both Google+ and YouTube.

Which social media platforms do applicants prefer?

Facebook 46%
LinkedIn 45%
YouTube 17%
Google+ 11%
Twitter 10%
Other 8%

These findings strongly suggest that business schools looking to attract the widest range of applicants possible must maintain a presence on numerous media platforms. This necessity comes in response to a changing consensus among applicants: they are increasingly relying on multiple sources to provide information before making a decision. Other findings support this. 89% of applicants still rely on official business school websites for information: however, over two-thirds cite other resources as being anything from ‘quite important’ to ‘essential’.
Furthermore, 64% of candidates employ a mixture of online and offline resources for their business school research, with only 31% using solely online resources. This strongly implies that business schools cannot yet afford to forego the offline forms of interaction with candidates – fairs and print publications, for example. QS’s research suggests that applicants are embracing new means of acquiring crucial information about potential institutions, but have not yet eschewed traditional sources. For example, 77% of applicants still prefer to use emails to contact business schools, with only 6% preferring social media.

“The secret to good marketing in this context is to develop a 360° marketing strategy that strikes a balance between offline marketing materials and the online environment. At ESADE, online marketing accounts for nearly 85% of our efforts” said Julio Villalobos, chief marketing officer, ESADE Business and Law School.

What information do applicants find elusive?

Information type Full-time 1 year MBA Full-time 2 year MBA
Scholarships and funding 55% 56%
Course content 31% 31%
Visa information 28% 26%
Application 26% 26%
Location 11% 13%
Other 3% 3%



The survey is also designed to inform business schools about which information applicants are finding difficult to source. This is designed to allow them to better tailor their applicant-focused content, and prevent talented students from being deterred by information voids. It shows that applicants are most likely to encounter difficulties when seeking information about funding and scholarships: a difficulty cited by over half of the survey’s respondents.

As business schools aim to distinguish themselves from the thousands of market competitors, the survey aims to provide them with the information to do so. By noting key differences based on region and age, it identifies the need for schools to tailor their content for numerous different platforms, formats, and audiences. By doing so, schools can ensure that their public presence is optimised to attract the highest possible number of talented, motivated individuals. The full report, containing all of the relevant differences by demographic and platform, can be found at



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