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To meet the challenges facing management education, Audencia Nantes School of Management in France has unveiled a five-year strategic plan.

Integral to its initiative is the creation of a new management entity with Audencia assuming management responsibility for two other schools in the region - St Nazaire L’Ecole Atlantique de Commerce, a batchelor level management school and a communications school, Sciences Com’ in Nantes.

Audencia already has a doctoral presence with its links to neighbouring Nantes university.

Funding for the scheme is coming from fees, as well as the local chamber of commerce, Nantes City Council and the Loire Atlantique General Assembly.

Dean at Audencia, Jean-Pierre Helfer, says his strategy is to form the school more along European lines and away from the Grande Ecole format.

The Grande Ecole programme he says is the school’s flagship programme, representing as much as 80 per cent of Audencia’s students.

But he adds, it is essentially a domestic programme and Audencia in the future would not be able to continue running a programme of this size if it is also to pursue its strategy of becoming one of Europe’s leading business schools.

“I plan, over the next five years, to launch new programmes and increase our focus on the MBA programme, so that within five years the Grande Ecole programme will be about 50 -55 per cent of our activity,“ says Prof Helfer.

With the Bologna agreement due to come into force in 2010 - the harmonisation of the higher education systems across Europe - Prof Helfer believes that French schools need to come to some agreement over the direction of the Grande Ecole programme.

There are two options he says. Either the Grande Ecole programme can remain a domestic programme with schools also offering an international masters programme, or alternatively, and the route that he favours, is to introduce a parallel second track with entry at the masters level. Audencia already has such a system in place with French students following the Grande Ecole programme while international students follow the Audencia master in management programme. Both sets of students graduate at the same point.

Other elements within the school’s plan include increasing the number of students from the current 1,800 to 3,500 in 2010. The budget will also rise from its present figure of €20m to €50m by the end of the decade. Faculty numbers will also double over the same period to 125.

As part of its internationalisation strategy the school has already appointed seven alumni to act as ambassadors for Audencia on the world stage. Meanwhile it plays an active role in the Euro*MBA, a programme offered by a pan-European consortium of schools.

Audencia dean Prof Helfer has recently assumed the presidency of the Euro*MBA.


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