A shake-up within the top five open-enrolment programmes defines a new order in the 2011 ranking. Spain’s Iese Business School is the leader of the pack of 65, up one place on its performance in 2010. Harvard Business School and Arizona’s Thunderbird School of Global Management also climb the table to share second place.

The ranking, based on a survey of business schools and open programme participants from 2010, gauges the quality of the different learning experiences as well as each school’s staff and student diversity, growth in business, and international reach.

Iese’s promotion to the top spot reflects improved levels of satisfaction among its students. The school is ranked second for its facilities and the level of follow-up offered to programme participants. It also scores well for the relevance of its course content, finishing third on the measure of new skills and learning.

Juan Caralt, 42, an oil and gas industry consultant based in Madrid, attended Iese’s advanced management programme in 2010. He says: “In executive education, I consider of importance the design of the programme, the preparation and quality of the attendees and the subsequent network and continuous education provided by the school. Iese excels in meeting everything. Along with that, the [programme] has been a wonderful intellectual challenge.”

Iese remains number one for the diversity of its faculty and its partnerships with other executive education providers (as measured by the FT’s partner school criterion). Based on the number of programmes it runs outside Spain, as well as beyond Europe, it is also ranked second for international location.

The table as a whole is similarly global – the 65 schools listed are based in 29 countries. The 12 schools with a presence in the US make up the biggest group of open programme providers. The UK and France are the next most common locations, with seven schools each.

Of the schools ranked this year, 55 ran at least one open programme outside their home countries in 2010. Domestic markets remained the main focus of these schools, though – accounting for four out of five courses taught.

The data are far from homogenous at a regional level. European schools, making up close to half of the schools listed (31 in total), were the most likely to offer programmes outside their home countries – 21 per cent of all programmes offered in 2010 were delivered abroad. Schools in North America were more domestically focused. The 16 ranked schools located there ran 89 per cent of open-enrolment offerings at home. Of the programmes offered by Latin American schools last year, 18 per cent were delivered internationally.

Similar regional differences emerge when comparing changes in revenues. Overall, three-quarters of schools reported that income from open programmes increased in 2010 compared with 2009. This is a reversal of fortunes: data collected at the same time last year showed a fall in revenues for nearly two-thirds of schools.

European schools appear to lag slightly, though. Close to one-third (10 schools) saw lower revenues in 2010, compared with three schools in North America (18 per cent) and only one in Latin America (10 per cent). Despite the upturn in revenues, income from open programmes globally remained below levels recorded in 2008 (for schools with comparable data).

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