On the international stage, where the MBA is the gold standard of post-graduate business education, London Business School, Insead and IMD are clear leaders. But in a purely European context, where the majority of postgraduate business students study on MSc programmes in management, it is a different story.

Those schools that perform best in this compilation ranking are those that have a full range of high quality postgraduate degree programmes, such as HEC Paris, ranked number one this year.

In the four individual rankings that are used to compile the European business school table, HEC takes the top spot in one, the European Masters in Management ranking, and, along with the London School of Economics, also has a share of the highly rated Trium Global Executive MBA, which was ranked for the first time by the FT this year at number four in the world. HEC also moved up dramatically in the FT global MBA and executive education rankings this year.

In contrast to HEC, London Business School participated in only three of the four rankings, but the quality products it offers in these three areas meant it still ranked number two. Insead, which participates in only two of the four rankings, was still ranked in the top 10 because of the strength of those two programmes in the individual rankings.

The schools that offer the top European programmes in each of the four programme rankings all feature in the top 10 of the European business schools table. Furthermore, of the top 10 schools, only two – HEC and ESCP-EAP, participated in the full quota of Financial Times business education rankings.

This survey comes with the caveat that it is based on aggregated Financial Times rankings that include only those programmes accredited by a recognised body (AACSB, Amba, Cems or Equis) and, in the case of the MBA, EMBA and European Masters in Management rankings, graduated classes three years ago or more. The classes must also be large enough to generate a statistically-valid set of responses from alumni. In the case of the Executive Education rankings, schools must have an annual income of $2m (just over £1m) to participate in each of the executive education rankings (open enrolment and customised programmes).

In total, 18 European countries are represented in the ranking of the top 55 European graduate business schools, and seven are represented in in the top 10.

Several schools stand out as having performed well in this year’s ranking. In the top 10, RSM Erasmus University reaps the rewards of improving its showing in individual rankings. In the European Masters in Management survey it moved up seven places and was ranked 13th this year whilst this year’s EMBA ranking placed it at 28th, as opposed to 40th in 2005.

Similarly, Stockholm School of Economics, ranked 12 in this survey, moved up from 71 in the 2005 EMBA ranking to 38 this year and from 15 to 8 place in the European Masters in Management survey.

Meanwhile, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, in Belgium, owes its success to improved showings in the Executive Education rankings (open and customised programmes) and a strong first-time entry into the European Masters in Management at number 12.

The graphs that accompany the table compare MBA and EMBA alumni from European versus North American schools. Data for the European Masters in Management ranking is also presented for the information of the reader.

In all employment sectors, EMBAs from North American schools are earning the same as, or more than, their counterparts who attended European schools. MBA alumni from North American schools, however, cannot necessarily look forward to a parallel financial benefit. Data from the 2006 MBA ranking showed that graduates of European schools were earning more on average, in six of the 11 employment sectors represented.

However, when alumni were asked to rank the importance of reasons for doing an MBA, those who attended schools in North America gave “increased earnings” as their third most important reason, on average, for studying. Graduates from European business schools ranked it fifth.

Among EMBA graduates, the split between different employment sectors is broadly similar between schools from both continents and the largest percentage of EMBA graduates is currently working in the industrial sector.

On the other hand, the sector split for MBA graduates from both North American and European schools conforms to general expectations; that is, the largest percentage follows a career in finance and banking. For alumni of European schools, the industrial sector comes a close second, while consultancy is the third most popular sector.

The reverse is seen amongst alumni who attended North American schools.

In total 55 schools based in 18 European countries are included in the ranking; the UK is the best represented with 20 business schools.

Twelve schools are based primarily in France, four in Spain, three in Belgium and two each in Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. There is one school from each in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Sweden. The Stockholm School of Economics also teaches in Russia and Latvia.

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