Thunderbird School of Global Management is selling its campus to for-profit college operator Laureate Education Inc. in an eleventh-hour attempt to shore up its finances after a dramatic drop in applications and shrinking student body.
Thunderbird, which has long been considered one of the top business schools in the world, has seen its applications fall 75 percent over the past 15 years, reported the Wall Street Journal. It's student body fell 8 percent between 2007 and 2012.
Thunderbird's woes reflect a larger trend among two-year full-time MBA programs. The recession, and the slow recovery that followed, has caused more people to question the value of an MBA. Prospective students are paying close attention to their return on investment--weighing the degree's ability to land them a lucrative job against the debt they'll take on.
While Thunderbird's alumni include some of the most powerful, highly paid business execs in the world, it's recent track record won't make it easier to attract students. Less than half of job-seeking students from last year's class landed positions within three months of graduation, according to WSJ.
Thunderbird is particularly vulnerable to the softening demand because it's essentially a standalone institution. Other universities that offer a diverse range of programs can withstand waning interest in one area.
The business school also has seen its value as a "global" school diminish as other universities add the label to their programs and open up satellite campuses in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.
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