U.S. Business Schools Seek Cuban Students

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Lindsay Gellman (Wall Street Journal) writes on how recruiters from U.S business schools are eager to “snap up fresh talent from a market that has been off-limits—until now.” A major draw is the reputation of Cuba’s quality, higher-education system in math and sciences, among other factors. [Many thanks to Ariana Hernández Reguant for bringing this item to our attention.] Here are excerpts:

For years, U.S. b-schools have taken academic trips to Cuba so students could study its emerging economy, thanks to a provision in the U.S. trade embargo that allowed for licensed educational travel. But those schools have been reluctant to try recruiting full-time students from the island nation because of the restrictions in both countries.

Now, as relations between the U.S. and Cuba normalize, schools such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business say they expect to enroll Cubans as soon as they can clear some administrative challenges.

The Cuban market is attractive in part because the country’s higher-education system has a reputation for developing students who are strong in math and the sciences, especially health care, said Derrick Bolton, director of M.B.A. admissions and assistant dean at Stanford GSB. “They have a strong education around sciences, and you combine that with broader interest in engaging with the world” via newly available opportunities in the U.S., he said.

Logistical hurdles such as the country’s fledgling technological and financial infrastructures remain, admissions officers, professors and test administrators pointed out, making it difficult to pin down timetables or set plans into motion. The Cuban government also is wary of allowing students trained in communist thought to study the ins and outs of capitalism, and might be reluctant to grant students permission to study in the U.S., professors say.

“Wharton would be very interested in recruiting in Cuba,” said Mauro Guillen, director of the school’s Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies. “A year from now it might well be feasible,” added Mr. Guillen, who has led several Wharton student trips to Cuba.

Admissions officers said their timetable for planning recruiting visits to the nation depends on when standardized testing becomes available. So at the urging of schools, entrance-exam administrators are working to establish Cuba test centers.

“We’ve been looking at what it would take to deliver a test” to the Cuban market, said Sangeet Chowfla, president and chief executive of the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, the main business school admissions test. GMAC is in the process of evaluating candidate demand for the test, and the logistics involved in administration, such as Internet connectivity and security for test centers, he said. A handful of Cuban nationals take the GMAT in other countries each year, according to GMAC.

As early as October Cuban students will be able to take the GRE revised general test, a graduate-school entrance exam accepted in lieu of the GMAT by many top business schools, in their home country, according to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the exam. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-business-schools-seek-cuban-students-1435781081

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