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A Truly International Student Body (North Americans Included!)

The more liberal approach that European business schools are taking with their curricula is not going unnoticed by the global applicant pool of aspiring managers and entrepreneurs. Many top-ranked European MBA programs have student bodies in which the nation hosting the institution contributes only a small minority of the student population.

For example, HEC in Paris is 82% international, with only 30% originating from all of Western Europe. David Bach, dean of the MBA program at IE reports that the profile of the MBA class matriculating in 2008 was 90% international. Significantly, IE, along with HEC, RSM at Erasmus University, and others are also seeing an increase in the number of North American applicants. This fact is significant since North America is home to some of the world’s most elite and prestigious business schools, which tend to give preference to qualified domestic applicants.

Of course, some level of diversity can be found in most competitive MBA programs, in North America and elsewhere; the difference is more philosophical in nature. For example, at HEC an American MBA candidate may find himself instructed to work in a team with citizens from China, Germany and Saudi Arabia to develop his abilities to work practically with a variety of peoples. As Valerie Gauthier, Associate Dean of HEC, said in an interview in earlier 2008, “The emphasis is not only on the leadership program, but human development.”

Global Collaboration Initiative

European business schools continue to diversify not only in terms of those they attract to their campuses, or the substantial and growing number of students who take part in exchange programs, but also in the ways they integrate with other educational concerns globally.

For instance, in a conference bringing the deans of 11 top business schools in London in July 2007, educational leaders discussed points of common interest, including joint loans and scholarships for students. They also discussed the merits and organization of their respective exchange programs.

The collaborative emphasis also exists between successful European schools and the developing world. IESE in Barcelona, which recently opened up a new office in New York City, has also opened three schools in Africa in Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya with the hope of bringing about the same sort of transformational change to countries in Africa that it helped entrepreneurs bring to Mexico, Brazil and China 20 years ago. Jordi Canals, dean of the program, has said that he wants the school to use its resources to work within the regional educational systems in Africa to train faculty and administration to become self-sufficient and take a commanding role in their own business education.

Though the United States remains the overall region most preferred by outsiders for business school study, one interesting trend has developed among applicants outside of the US – More and more of them are attending institutions within their region.

In 2007 the United States accounted for approximately 65% of GMAT test takers by residence. Only 1-2% of those test takers applied for schools outside of the US despite some small increases in application numbers. In other words, business schools outside of the US have not yet proven successful at attracting this large US-based applicant pool.

Globally business schools seem to be successfully attracting applicants from their own region. Europeans are attending European business schools. Asians are attending Asian business schools. As stated above, Americans are attending American business schools. Canadians are attending Canadian business schools, and the list goes on. In Europe, the United Kingdom, France and Spain have become increasingly attractive options for Europeans—leading some to stay in their region rather than apply, for example, to the United States.

The overall trend may be due, especially for Asian schools, to

  1. the increased difficulty to attain student visas to countries such as the United States,
  2. the cost, a leading consideration for MBA applicants,
  3. the desire to stay closer to home,
  4. more relevance between program content and local business environment and networks, and
  5. the likely factor that institutions in all regions of the world are gaining prestige and international recognition as well as increasing in numbers.

One notable exception to this trend is Latin America, where applicants continue to prefer non-regionally located business schools for study.

Posted on May 19, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Today we will cover a small yet focused and ambitious MBA program – Miami University’s Farmer School of Business.

Dean Roger L. Jenkins at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business has made significant changes to the MBA curriculum with far reaching effects.

Dean Jenkins chose 12 trusted faculty members to re-evaluate and restructure the curriculum. Jenkins did so with unique specifications:

  • Base a new program off some top European B-school programs.
  • Instead of the somewhat typical 2 year MBA program, Dean Jenkins switched to a fast paced 14-month program focused on efficiency.
  • Add a required global component with an emphasis on studying and collaborating with the pan-Asian business community.
  • Rather than the standard summer internship, Miami will institute a corporate internship that spans the entire 14 months. This internship is done in groups. The group is assigned a strategic problem that they are to work with.

A Long-Term Success Story

So far, after two graduating classes, Dean Jenkins and Farmer are pleased with the results. They are able to boast a 100% placement record for both classes. To further qualify the figure, Dean says they are “strong” placements, both in terms of salary and the organizations to which the students move.

The program, although still small with 20-25 students per graduating class, has been completely reinvented. The medium term goal is to have 125 students per class in the next 7-8 years. Over the next 20 years, they hope to grow to about 200 hundred students, remaining on the smaller end of the top 25 MBA programs. This is an interesting contrast to Miami’s very large undergraduate program.

Miami has also developed a strong new way for students to interface with their learning. Rather than having a traditional question and answer lecture format, they hope to have most of their curriculum based on video taped, online lectures. These lectures can be downloaded and viewed at the students’ convenience worldwide. This is in keeping with Miami’s desire to emphasize global study.

Posted on January 18, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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