The king is dead long live the king. The 2012 FT European business schools ranking, now in its ninth year, marks the end of an era. The European crown, which has belonged to HEC Paris of France for the past six years, has been seized by IE Business School of Spain. IE now tops the group of 80 European schools.

The ranking is based on the indexed scores achieved by schools this year in five rankings – those for MBAs, executive MBAs, masters in management and open and custom executive education (see Key and methodology). Indexed scores reflect a school’s standing among its European peers.

Both quality and quantity are required to reach the top. IE Business School is now included in all five rankings, having participated in the master in management ranking for the first time in 2012, reaching sixth place.

The top spot in the European schools ranking reflects IE’s strong performances across the range, notably third in the MBA ranking.

“IE Business School is outstanding for the international environment, the personal development and coaching one receives,” says Larissa Dornbach, a 2008 MBA graduate from Germany and now a senior manager.

While the performance of HEC Paris remained very strong across all five rankings, it lost the top spot due to its participation in the EMBA ranking in a joint programme. As one-third of the Trium programme, with LSE and NYU Stern, HEC Paris was allocated only a third of the programme score. In effect, HEC’s 4.33 programmes lost out to IE’s five programmes.

Competition at the top is getting stronger, with more schools participating in all five rankings.

Spanish school Esade’s first participation in the EMBA world with its joint programme with Georgetown University, ensured that it climbed two places to fifth.

Kozminski University in Poland, Antwerp Management School in Belgium and ESMT in Germany showed the strongest progression, each rising by more than 20 places in the European ranking after entering or re-entering the EMBA ranking in 21st, 23rd and 17th position respectively.

The UK and France are undoubtedly the powerhouses of business education in Europe. While schools from 19 countries feature in the 2012 European ranking, more than half are located either in the UK or France (21 and 20 respectively).

The graphic shows the strength of business education by country, using aggregated school index scores. The UK comes first, closely ­followed by France with Spain a distant third.

However, how do countries compare relative to the position of each school in this ranking? The second graphic shows the relative strength of business education by country. It is calculated by aggregating schools’ scores by country and dividing by the average rank of that country.

This alternative map places Spain first, with three of four ranked Spanish business schools (IE, Esade and Iese) in the top six, with the UK second and France third.

The UK and Spain have the most internationally diverse programmes, with 85 per cent and 75 per cent of participants from overseas, while programmes in Turkey and Poland are rather less cosmopolitan. Austria, Finland, France and Portugal have the most gender-balanced degree programmes with the percentage of women close to 50 per cent.

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