European MBA education stands out for its high teaching standards, a healthy return on investment, good employment opportunities, and diverse classrooms. MBA aspirants wishing to study in Europe have the choice of established business schools offering cutting-edge education.
If you have been following the news lately, you will undoubtedly be questioning statements glorifying Europe. The EU has indeed had its fair share of problems over the last years. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union, the constant talk of an unravelling of the euro zone, the migrant crisis, and the effects of the unrest in the Middle East are just a few. However, the European Union remains the largest economy in the world, with a GDP per capita of USD 25,000 for its 500 million consumers. The European Single Market comprises the 28 EU member states and, to varying degrees, the four members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.
In this context, business schools in Europe have an important role to play as incubators of innovative and responsible business leadership for the complex global environment. Let’s look at the pillars of European MBA education.
Teaching of top quality
Quality of education can be measured in various ways, but accreditation is arguably one of the most thorough professional assessments of business schools. “Accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement in postgraduate business education,” defines the London-based Association of MBAs (AMBA) – one of the three major bodies which accredit business degree programmes along with AACSB (US) and EQUIS (Belgium). So, accreditation by any one of these bodies is a prominent stamp for quality. Multiple accreditation is clearly an indicator of superb programme quality and global recognition. As of July 2016, there are more than 75 institutions which are accredited by the three major agencies –
AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS – of which 80% are European, representing 16 countries spread across the Old Continent. What better illustration can we have of the value and quality of their MBA programmes?
In addition to heavily dominating the “triple accreditation” status, European business schools rate highly in media rankings of business education. INSEAD (France) topped the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking of the best 100 programmes for the second consecutive year in 2017. The FT Top 10 also features other European business schools such as the University of Cambridge: Judge (UK), London Business School (UK), IE (Spain), and IESE (Spain). Although less prominent, European schools also feature in The Economist’s 2016 full-time MBA ranking, with IESE, INSEAD, and HEC (France), IE, and the University of Warwick (UK) all occupying places in the top 20. In addition, European schools occupy the top eight spots in Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2016 ranking of full-time international MBA programmes.
The quality of business education is measured not only by rankings and accreditations but also by the constant effort to address the latest challenges of the modern world. “The new curriculum prepares the students better. We have streamlined it and made it exactly fit the needs of the current job market,” reads a statement from HEC Paris, which has remodelled its curriculum to place an emphasis on specialisations to allow students to wade deeper into a particular area. INSEAD, driven by the transformation in the global workplace, announced in March 2017 that it is modifying its MBA curriculum to include new topics such as fintech, big data, and social media analytics.
Impressive monetary gain
In terms of return on investment (ROI), graduates from European top business schools often enjoy a pay increase of about 100% compared with their pre-MBA income. Indeed, graduates of institutions such as IESE and SDA Bocconi (Italy) can expect their post-MBA income to soar by 133% and 120% respectively, according to the Financial Times. However, impressive salary increases are not reserved for those business schools at the top of the FT Global MBA ranking. Vlerick Business School (Belgium), for example, which is ranked #99, helps its MBA alumni gain a pay increase of 72% on average, while Grenoble Ecole de Management (France), ranked #92, promises a pay rise of 76% on average. MBA programmes at business schools such as Vlerick and SDA Bocconi cost between EUR 40,000 and EUR 50,000, while programmes offered by the highest-profile schools such as LBS and INSEAD cost between EUR 80,000 and EUR 90,000. This healthy ROI understandably attracts more candidates. In 2016, 65% of programmes in European business schools saw increased application volumes, compared with 46% of US programmes and 41% of programmes in East and Southeast Asia, according to GMAC.
The duration of an MBA programme and the associated costs over and above the tuition fee can also affect its ROI. In addition, the time spent away from the dynamic job market has been a significant factor in the past decade. In this respect, European business schools provide a good option. The standard duration of the European MBA degree is 12 or 18 months, although some schools such as IESE and LBS offer two-year programmes. In the case of LBS, students can choose whether to finish the programme in 15, 18, or 21 months. In the US, MBA programmes typically last two years, and although some US schools offer one-year programmes, they remain the exception.
Ample employment opportunities
Since Europe is one of the most vibrant places economically, it attracts MBA students with its opportunities for professional fulfilment. About 71% of employers in Europe planned to hire recent MBA graduates in 2016, according to the 2016 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey Report. This is an increase of seven percentage points over the previous year. At the same time, 64% of corporate recruiters in Europe expected their company to expand.
The majority of alumni from European MBA programmes find jobs within three months of graduation. In terms of industries, technology, consulting, and e-commerce draw the biggest number of MBA graduates. About 26% of IESE’s MBA graduates, for example, accept jobs in consulting, 16% in technology and e-commerce, 15% in financial services, 11% in consumer goods, and 8% in healthcare. It should be pointed out that the majority of MBA students prefer to remain in Europe after graduation. About 25% of IESE MBA graduates accept jobs in Spain, 42% go elsewhere in Europe, and 14% are hired in Latin America. At ESMT Berlin, 83% of graduates from its MBA Class of 2015 received job offers within three months of graduation, with 7% of graduates starting their own companies. About 25% of the graduates accepted jobs in the technology sector, with consulting, media, energy, financial services, and e-commerce each drawing 12% of the Class of 2015. Nearly 80% of the graduates preferred to stay in Germany after receiving their degrees.
Another prominent feature of the European job market is the opportunity for mobility within the European Union. There are over 40 countries in Europe, and travelling between them for business or cultural exploration takes little more than three hours by plane. It is even possible to live in one country and work in a neighbouring one.
Enriching cultural diversity
Diversity is one of the outstanding features of the MBA programmes in Europe. In 2016, international candidates accounted for 89% of full-time one-year MBA applicants in Europe, according to the GMAC (2016) Application Trends Survey. The HEC Paris MBA programme is a case in point. About 90% of its students come from outside France and over 40 nationalities are represented. This allows students to develop a truly multicultural approach to strategy and problem solving.
The diverse student body was a key reason for Carolina Bicalho from Brazil choosing LBS, where the proportion of international students also approaches 90%. “The people here are collaborative and very willing to be generous with each other. It’s a rich experience and I’m enjoying being part of a great international community.”
If you would like to enrol in an internationally oriented MBA programme, Europe is the place for you. At some schools, the proportion of students coming from outside the country reaches 96%. This exposes students to a culturally diverse mix and thus to new ideas and perspectives, and leads to lively class discussions. In addition, this diversity contributes to the creation of networking opportunities that span the globe.
European programmes typically enrol fewer women compared with US business schools. At INSEAD, women make up about 34% of the student body, compared with 41% at Stanford. European schools are however taking measures to boost female representation in their classrooms. IE set up a special fund earlier this year, with an endowment of EUR 6 million for scholarships aimed at women. The key objective of the fund is to enable the world’s best female talent to undertake IE programmes, giving priority to women in the fields of technology, entrepreneurship, and leadership, or women from Africa.
With its opportunities for soaking in its amazing history, art, and culture, Europe provides much more than just a quality place for education. Discover for yourself.