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Of all GMAT scores sent to Canada, 63 per cent came from international students (mostly China and India), up from 48 per cent in 2009.Sean Gallagher/The Globe and Mail

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

Canada ranks third in a top-10 list of global destinations for graduate business studies, with immigration-friendly policies attracting a growing number of international students, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.

The findings are among some intriguing trends identified in new reports from GMAC, the Reston, Va.-based organization that administers the all-important Graduate Management Admission Test to potential graduate business students in 113 countries.

In one report, a survey of 12,000 prospective students worldwide who registered with, GMAC found that the United States was the preferred study destination for 70 per cent of respondents. Europe was in second place at 15 per cent, while Canada got the nod from 5 per cent.

"Canada has worked hard as a nation to represent itself with study Canada campaigns," says Michelle Sparkman Renz, director of research communications for GMAC. In addition to the Imagine Canada campaign, developed by the provinces and a coalition of postsecondary organizations in co-operation with the federal government  to boost international student recruitment, six of the country's top business schools forged their own marketing alliance last year to raise their profile among overseas candidates.

Another GMAC report analyzed the prospective student survey along with demographic data for nearly 240,000 GMAT test-takers in 2013 to probe their motivation and mindset for considering a graduate business degree.

The report found that Canada's "welcoming visa policies for students and skilled workers" made it the fourth-largest GMAT marketplace after the United States, China and India. Of all GMAT scores sent to Canada, 63 per cent came from international students (mostly China and India), up from 48 per cent in 2009. Within Canada, foreign students accounted for 29 per cent of test-takers compared with just 21 per cent of those taking the test in the United States.

In 2013, GMAC data showed the MBA remains the preferred business degree but almost half of candidates worldwide expressed interest in specialty degrees, such as finance and accounting. The proportion of those who only wanted to pursue a specialty program rose to 20 per cent globally last year, up from 13 per cent in 2009.

A third GMAC report – a profile of all candidates who took the entrance test in 2013 – found that men continue to outnumber women. In Canada, men accounted for 62 per cent of test-takers, with women 38 per cent of the total.

The ratio is the reverse in some countries in Asia.

In China, women account for 64 per cent of test-takers, with men making up 34 per cent of the total. Chinese women under 25 are fuelling a surge in test-taking as they pursue specialty degrees in finance or accounting rather than an MBA, according to GMAC.

By contrast, GMAC notes that Indian men, many with engineering degrees, account for 74 per cent of test-takers with women only 26 per cent of the total.

New certificate program addresses innovation void

After a decade of studies on business innovation, Canada still ranks a lowly 13th out of 16 comparable countries in innovation, with no obvious solutions to hand, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

In response, the University of Winnipeg's faculty of business and economics has teamed with Manitoba manufacturers and a network of U.S. universities to deliver a new executive education certificate in innovation development.

"We know innovation is such a problem in industry," says Sylvie Albert, dean of Winnipeg's business faculty. "People don't know how to get it [innovation] started or to take advantage of it when it does happen."

In September, her faculty will be the first Canadian business school to offer the year-long certificate, developed by the University of Maine and the U.S.-based Innovation Engineering Institute and offered in five U.S. states.

For the certificate, presented as a sequence of four courses taught in a class and online for between $2,500 and $2,800, students learn how to treat innovation as a systemic process, not a random event.

"Innovation has risen to the top of the chart in terms of the importance and the need," says Ron Koslowsky, Manitoba vice-president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association, which worked with the faculty to bring the certificate program to Winnipeg.

Bringing a structured approach to innovation means that ideas, once generated, are vetted and analyzed in a timely manner, he says. With a philosophy of "fail often, but fail quickly," Mr. Koslowsky hopes companies will learn how to identify what ideas will make them stand out from the crowd.

"We are convinced this is the way to practically apply innovation rather than to wring your hands. ... Our goal at CME is to make Manitoba and Canadian manufacturers the most competitive in the world."

Eventually, Dr. Albert hopes to offer the certificate program to undergraduate business students.

"If students graduate and go to work, they can help employers work through these [innovation] systems as well and integrate them directly to their jobs," she says.

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