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With demand for management education soaring, particularly from China and India, what are the challenges facing Europe’s many business schools in the coming decade?

Will the 2010 Bologna Process - the harmonisation of Europe’s further education landscape - encourage more students from these regions to look to Europe for their education and what impact could this have on the traditional MBA programme?

Richard Gillingwater, dean of Cass Business School, City of London, Davide Sola, UK director of ESCP-EAP School of Management and Linda Anderson, the FT’s business education writer answer your questions.


Do European schools need to become more American to hire and retain staff? Why have London Business School and Insead, both adopting more US-style practices in this domain, been more successful in international rankings?
Hakan Ener

Richard Gillingwater: It is true that LBS and Insead have models more similar to the American set up, but I strongly refute that one model is better than the other as they do different things. To take just one example, over half of Cass’s faculty come from overseas and we have recently attracted some of the very best academic talent in Europe.

Davide Sola: We do not believe that we need to become more American to hire and retain staff. In fact in opposition to this thanks to our unique setting of five campuses across Europe we are able to recruit excellent staff attracted to the school by the possibility to work across boundaries.

Rankings are largely compiled with US schools in mind, although recently, and in our view very helpfully, the FT have compiled a European Business Schools ranking of rankings to showcase the very best schools in Europe.

Linda Anderson: The strength of European schools lies in their diversity and international outlook. If they were to adopt a more US-style approach they would lose the very attributes that their MBA students value so much.

Both London Business School and Insead are well established schools and they do well across the board on the international measures, hence their healthy placing in the rankings.


What do you think about interactive management education portals such as www.12manage.com? Is it an objective approach to executive education? And can you recommend some other management portals?
Gene Art, Lima, Peru

Davide Sola: These portals are an example of how this knowledge has become a commodity and they allow the transfer of knowledge very easily. We believe that knowledge is not sufficient and business leaders need much more than just knowledge. They need skills such as problem solving, people management, leadership, communication skills which are best achieved through classroom interaction.

Richard Gillingwater: The proliferation of management resources online can only enhance the learning experience for any executive. That said, there is no substitute for a substantive taught MSc or MBA which will bring you in touch with executives or future executives across the world.

We are very keen to encourage South Americans to come to Cass and apply via our Santander scholarships!


How much do MBA degrees at good European universities typically cost?
Sree Kumar, India

Linda Anderson: An MBA is an expensive option. Programmes can cost as much as £30,000, and additional living costs also have to be taken into the equation. On top of that full-time MBAs are obviously not earning a salary while they study so that the expense can soon mount up. Distance learning programmes are obviously not so costly.

Richard Gillingwater: The costs vary a lot between schools, but to give you an example, the cost for a full time MBA at Cass (recently ranked 3rd in the UK by the FT’s European Business School rankings) is £27,000. We recognise that living and studying in the UK can be expensive and therefore we offer an extensive range of scholarships to attract students of the very highest academic calibre from around the world.

This year we are also privileged to have more UK Government Chevening Scholarships than ever before. For more information on Cass scholarships please visit our website.

Davide Sola: The EMBA at ESCP-EAP costs €35,000.


If value in the future will mainly be created through innovation and creativity, what will be the value and consequences of a homogenized business education? As courses become more job specific, how can we expect that future business leaders will have a grasp of changing world dynamics and the underlying economic and cultural change in the world, which requires more than a degree in finance?
Peter v. Campe, Singapore

Davide Sola: We do agree that standards of business education are raising throughout the world and therefore quality is more homogeneous. However, this homogenisation of quality does not mean that the course content is merely knowledge transfer.

As said before in our school we strongly believe that the future business leaders will of course need a strong knowledge base but this will need to be coupled with skills and even more importantly the right mind set. By right mind set we mean a set of attitudes such as curiosity, risk taking and innovative thinking will allow them to cope with the increase challenges of today’s world.

Linda Anderson: An MBA education is not a homogenised business education. Schools endeavour to attract as culturally diverse an MBA class as possible which ensures that students learn as much from each other and each other’s experiences as they do from the course. This is balanced by modules overseas, and a wide range of electives tailored to the specific needs of students. Today’s MBA participants have a very clear grasp of changing world dynamics and an MBA is one of the very best tools tomorrow’s leaders can have.

Richard Gillingwater: That comes down to taking the time to really understand what the best degree is for the individual. The way that we ensure our courses remain relevant is to maintain a pro-active dialogue with the businesses on our doorstep and adapt our curricular accordingly. Although from the second half of your question, an MBA here at Cass would equip you with all the insights you mention.


Do you feel the value and reputation of MSc programs is rising to the point where it is replacing an MBA as a pre-requisite for big business? Is there any point in doing an MBA after doing four years in an undergraduate business administration degree, and 18 months more of international management and marketing?
Sean Hoff, Barcelona, Spain

Davide Sola: It is true that the MSc programmes in management are becoming increasingly more important and highly recognised by the recruiters and accreditation bodies. We do not believe that the MSc and the MBA are mutually exclusive because we see the MSc as a continuation of the University studies in order to equip the candidates for the working environment.

On the other hand we see the MBA as a qualification that prepares for major leadership roles and are therefore aimed at people with a number of years of experience. In our school we notice that a number of candidates of our EMBA have actually completed MSc’s years previously.

Linda Anderson: It would depend very much on where you wished your career to go. An MBA is an excellent general management qualification, especially when combined with the 3-4 years of work experience that many schools demand before one can enter the programme. there is also the strong networking element to consider which business schools pride themselves on facilitating.

An MSc programme is more focused, more specific and tends to attract younger participants. I think it unlikely that it will replace an MBA, there seems to be ample room in the market for both qualifications.

Richard Gillingwater: Cass has a very strong and diverse group of MSc degrees which are aimed at international students who have little or no work experience. We have seen a very big rise in numbers here at Cass over the last five years and currently have 1300 MSc students.

Our MBA programme is aimed at a different segment, namely the experienced executive who is looking to gain serious general management capability and insight. We fundamentally believe that there is a strong point in contemplating the MBA, even after a specialist MSc. What we like to do is to talk with prospective students to find out what course is best for them. I would encourage any potential MSc or MBA students to contact our admissions teams to talk through your options.


To what extent are EU MBA programs competitive with their US/Canadian counterparts? Especially when the majority of MBA grads from EU schools enter the markets early because of the shorter MBA duration (15-20 months). Other than in the UK, is the EU thinking of any international student-friendly policies which allows them to work in the host country for at least one year without any work permit requirements?
Afsheen Bashir Ali

Richard Gillingwater: At Cass we regard our MBA programme as extremely competitive with those in the US and Canada. We have a demonstrably more significant international mix of both students and faculty which would seriously differentiate us from the typical class in the US (mainly dominated by North American students).

In the US we also observe that the age of participants is coming down all the time as schools scramble to fill their programmes. Here at Cass the average age of our full-time MBA cohort is 31 and the average work experience is six plus years and we hold to this as a very significant benchmark.

Davide Sola: European MBAs are increasingly becoming a very valuable proposition (see the FT Ranking). The European model is typically shorter than the US counterpart but it is also true that the student enrolled in those MBAs are slightly older and therefore they bring their enhanced business experience into the class room.

For example our EMBA has students with an average of eight years of experience. Regarding the work permit issues in Europe for non EU students, our experience is that students enrolled on programmes with mandatory company placements are able to use their student Visa to secure the placement.


Is there, or should there be, a European stance on business education? If so, how should it differ from the somewhat more case-study/model oriented approach in the US?
Michael Neugarten, Ramat Efal, Israel

Richard Gillingwater: Here at Cass we have a blend of both theoretical teaching and case study work. Our location puts us in a unique position in that we are able to draw heavily on practitioners from the neighbouring financial district, the City of London, which enhances both the theoretical and the case work with serious real world practical applications.

One of the strengths of the European scene is its absence of the dominant case study model. I see this as a real benefit.

Davide Sola: Being a European institution with presence in five countries, we believe that the European stance stands for diversity, embracing the best of each business education model. Moreover we believe in balance and diversity of teaching methodologies. The programmes in our campuses are taught using the following approach:

- Traditional lecturing

- Workshops and seminars

- Tutorials

- Case studies and increasingly business simulation, all blended with a compulsory period in company placement


If China and India are really the drivers for management education globally, shouldn’t European schools be looking more toward being present there and provide a genuine global touch? Having graduated from Insead (and experienced the Asia campus), I know that it works well.
Kingshuk Ghoshal, Singapore

Davide Sola: We definitely agree that China and India will be a strong contributor to management education in the coming years, having said that we see three different ways forward for European institutions:

1) To establish partnerships with local institutions where the objective is to develop joint programmes involving studying in multiple locations

2) To facilitate student flow between the locations

3) To establish a local presence/campus

Richard Gillingwater: There are several models that can work and the Insead model is one. At Cass, on our full-time MBA course, we draw very good students from both of those countries. Our curriculum is very sensitive to the growth and cultural dynamics of China and India.

Linda Anderson: Europe’s business schools are well aware of the importance of both regions and are increasingly forming partnerships, exchange programmes and research links with schools in Asia. French school Essec for example has established the Essec Asian Center in Singapore whilst London Business School has firm links with the Indian School of Business at Hyderabad. Schools also now regularly include residential modules as part of their MBA programmes in both India and China and these are trends that are set to grow.


What do you think about the future for online MBA education and degrees in Europe?
Nikolay Megits

Davide Sola: We believe that online education will expand, though, with the current technology and expertise a full time online MBA does not fully deliver the same value of a traditional MBA, for three reasons:

1) The case method we use for the MBA has as a core element which is the interaction between the participants; this is very difficult to replicate online.

2) An MBA class is more than just knowledge transfer, it is about learning skills and in particular change attitudes/mind sets which again is difficult to replicate outside a class room.

3) A class is made of people that for a period of time share a very intense experience which makes the class interaction contribute to the evolution of the learning process in an environment that is supervised by a professor.

Linda Anderson: I think the future is a very healthy one. More and more people recognise the value of an MBA but at the same time are unwilling to leave their jobs to study full time for a management qualification. Online MBAs allow them to have the best of both worlds - they continue their employment while at the same time learning new skills which can immediately be put to good use.

The flexibility of online education is one of its greatest strengths.

Richard Gillingwater: I agree the future for online MBA education is probably healthy, but this misses an absolute crucial aspect of MBA education, that is the key interaction between teacher and student and between the students and the shared learning that comes from those interactions.

At Cass we have developed a blended learning model which puts faculty and students together face to face and has an international curriculum supported by the very best online tools and environment and a pastoral system that supports our students wherever they may be in the world.


Do you think that the traditional European MBA and EMBA programs are well positioned to educate a new generation of leaders?
Viktor O. Ledenyov, Ukraine

Richard Gillingwater: I think they are extremely well positioned to do exactly that. We have recently completely overhauled both our full-time MBA and EMBA programmes and are confident that they offer leading edge expertise in leadership.

Linda Anderson: I think European schools are very well placed to educate tomorrow’s leaders. The Bologna Process - the harmonisation of Europe’s higher education arena - means that schools are working together very closely, sharing best practice and are therefore on the cutting edge of new research, etc. Schools are able to respond rapidly to emerging markets and can swiftly alter programmes to take account of new business trends.

Davide Sola: Founded almost 200 years ago ESCP-EAP has a strong tradition of educating world leaders and with its unique European five campus model, it is in a strong position to continue this. Having said that we are continuously screening the market for new trends and market demands and adapt and innovate our model to comply with and explore such changes.


Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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