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A variety of students.Dmitriy Shironosov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Globe's weekly business-school news roundup.

Bucking a trend south of the border, Canada recorded a rise in tests taken by aspiring MBA candidates over the past five years, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

The number of Canadian citizens taking the council's Graduate Management Admission Test rose 7 per cent to 7,820 over 2008-12, while the United States experienced a 7-per-cent decline in tests taken by its citizens over the same time period.

One explanation for the cross-border difference is that the demographic "youth bubble" is slightly younger in the United States than Canada, observes Michelle Sparkman-Renz, director of research communications for GMAC. Moreover, she notes, younger students (25 and under) are interested in a widening portfolio of non-MBA graduate-level specialty programs offered at American business schools.

"There's more program diversification in the U.S. [than Canada]," she observes, noting the growth in graduate degrees in data analytics, social media management and marketing and communication.

According to GMAC's annual profile report on global test-takers released this month, Canadian business schools also benefited from a 20-per-cent jump in tests taken by Canadian residents (including foreign-born students living here) over the 2008-12 period.

"That speaks volumes to evidence of international students continuing to be more and more attracted to Canada," says Ms. Sparkman-Renz, noting Canada's reputation for a high-quality education system, affordable tuition and a welcoming attitude to international students.

The GMAC report also highlights several emerging global trends about GMAT test-takers.

Over the past five years, they have become increasingly international (59 per cent from outside the United States in 2012, compared with 49 per cent in 2008); younger (47 per cent are 25 and under in 2012, compared with 38 per cent in 2008); female (43 per cent in 2012, up from 39 per cent in 2008) and specialty degree-focused (29 per cent of test takers in 2012, compared with 17 per cent in 2008).

China is a big factor in all four trends, leading the way globally in the number of GMAT tests taken, the percentage of youth and women applicants and their appetite for specialty business degrees, such as a master of accounting.

New chair in co-operatives

Manitoba is home to more than 350 co-operatives, organized as socially-conscious enterprises that pool resources for their members in agriculture, credit unions, energy, insurance and other fields.

In recognition of their economic importance, six Manitoba-based co-operatives and the provincial government have put up a combined $625,000 over five years to establish a chair in co-operative enterprises at the University of Winnipeg's faculty of business, effective July, 2013.

"Now we will have a pool of students who will be educated and ready to go work in that particular sector or start small co-ops of their own," says Sylvie Albert, dean of Winnipeg's business and economics faculty.

The agreement includes the appointment of a new chair to be named next year and a provision, starting in September, 2013, for undergraduate bachelor of business administration students to earn a recognized specialty in co-operative enterprises. There also will be increased opportunities for students to work in the sector while earning their degree.

Prof. Albert says that co-operative enterprises have complained that business schools have done too little, historically, to teach about the unique financial structure and social responsibility ethos that characterizes a movement dating to the late 1800s in Manitoba.

This year, Winnipeg's faculty offered three electives in co-operative enterprises that proved popular with students, with plans for a full-fledged program in three years.

Prof. Albert says the new agreement reflects the growing importance that faculties like hers attach to working with local employers to serve both their needs and those of students.

"We are living in a new era of change, of meeting more narrowly the needs of different sectors or industries," she says.

Canadian schools that made Bloomberg's rankings

Five Canadian business schools made it into the Top 19 of Bloomberg Businessweek's ranking of international schools offering full-time MBA programs, which was based on global responses from the graduating class of 2012, corporate recruiters and a tally of faculty articles published in top journals. (Editor's note: if you follow the Bloomberg ranking link, you need to click on the "International" tab for international results.)

In order, the Canadian schools and their ranking for 2012 are: Queen's University School of Business (4); University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business (7); McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management (10); University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management (11); York University's Schulich School of Business (14).

Global program wins award

The Master of Global Business at the University of Victoria's Gustavson School of Business has won an award for "high quality and highly creative programming" from the Canadian Bureau for International Education at its annual conference in Montreal. Students who earn the one-year global business degree work and live on three continents to learn a new language, develop leadership skills and study international business practices, according to the citation from CBIE.

The current global business class will spend part of their year in their choice of two countries, including France, South Korea, Taiwan and Austria, before returning to Victoria.

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