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A change at the top for the first time since the rankings were inaugurated in 2005 is the most striking feature of 2009’s FT masters in management rankings.

HEC Paris, which has led the ranking for the last four years, has fallen one place to second, with the top spot taken by Cems*, a global alliance of 25 business schools that includes HEC Paris.

Recently enlarged to include organisations from outside Europe for the first time, Cems offers a masters in international management programme to selected students studying at one of its member schools, with participants awarded the coveted MiM qualification in addition to the degree they receive from their home institution.

The programme lives up to its billing, scoring well on a range of indicators: the percentage of international students, faculty members and board members are all up in the high 90s. Cems alumni also top the ranking of international mobility, which measures changes in the country of residence of alumni between graduation and today.

“Coming from an international family and having travelled a lot, the Cems programme was perfect for me – it enabled me to combine high academic standards with international experience and networking. It was the first time in all my academic life that I felt I truly fitted in,” says one Cems graduate.

A period of overseas study, which all Cems students must complete, is part of the unique selling point of the programme. Strong links with the business community are another plus. “I managed to find an internship at one of Cems’ corporate partners, which made me more valuable on the international labour market,” says one alumnus from the Corvinus University of Budapest.

Cems’ rise to the top spot is not totally unexpected, with it finishing in either second or third position in each of the last four years. A total of 13 Cems member schools also feature in the 2009 ranking, including four in the top 10 (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, ranked 10th, Esade Business School ninth, LSE fourth and HEC Paris second).

This year’s breakthrough is largely explained by average salary data. While weighted salary average for Cems graduates is more or less unchanged compared with 2008, up less than 1 per cent to $61,003 (£37,000), its nearest rivals saw a reduction in alumni salaries year on year. This, combined with a consistent performance on other indicators, was enough to give Cems the crown.

Across the rankings, the information gathered on salaries gives an indication of how the downturn is affecting graduate earnings.

Overall, average salaries three years after graduation fell by just over three per cent compared with 2008, reaching $53,000. The consultancy sector, traditionally targeted by graduates seeking the best salary packages, was particularly affected. Alumni reported a decrease of 6 per cent (about $3,500) year on year, leaving the sector average at $54,400. Despite this reduction, consultancy is the second highest paying sector, reflecting reductions to levels of remuneration across other sectors.

Average income in the retail, transport, logistics and finance/banking sectors all fell by more than three per cent. The only group of alumni to buck the trend were those working in consumer industries. Salaries in this sector were up almost 2 per cent to $50,070, albeit having been the lowest-paying sector in 2008.

Given that the surveyed alumni graduated in 2006, when conditions in the labour market were more favourable, the level of the overall drop in salaries is perhaps surprising.

One explanatory factor for the magnitude of the decrease is the concentration of alumni in the consultancy and finance/banking sectors. Almost half of alumni reported that they work in these sectors, which have been particularly affected by the financial crisis. The fact that salaries reported by alumni also include discretionary bonuses – which have dried up in recent times – may also be a factor.

Purchasing power parity, affected by movements in currencies, has had an impact too. The decline in the overall average salary would have been 2.3 per cent, instead of 3.1 per cent, if the rates used in 2008 still applied.

The news on graduate prospects is not all bad though. Of the 65 per cent of alumni from the most recent graduating class for which schools held data, 86 per cent found employment within three months of graduation. These proportions, both in terms of data coverage and employment, are in line with previous data for the previous four years.

*Alumni data for Cems were gathered from students of the 17 European schools who were members of the then Community of European Management Schools in 2006


Leagues of their own

The top 10 schools in selected categories

Top weighted salaries
1 Mannheim Business School
2 HEC Paris
4 ESCP Europe
5 Essec Business School
6 Stockholm School of Economics
7 Cems
8 University of Cologne, Faculty of Management
9 Copenhagen Business School
10 Grenoble Graduate School of Business

Top salaries in finance
1 HEC Paris
2 ESCP Europe
3 Stockholm School of Economics
4 Cems
5 University of Cologne, Faculty of Management
6 City University: Cass
7 Maastricht University
8 Esade Business School
9 RSM, Erasmus University
10 Edhec Business School

Top salaries in consultancy
1 HEC Paris
2 Stockholm School of Economics
3 ESCP Europe
4 Cems
5 University of Cologne, Faculty of Management
6 Essec Business School
7 Maastricht University
8 HEC Montreal
10 EM Lyon Business School

Best in entrepreneurship
1 Imperial College Business School
2 EM Lyon Business School
3 Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
4 Kozminski University
5 HEC Paris
6 Nyenrode Business Universiteit
7 City University: Cass
8 HEC Montreal
9 Euromed Marseille Ecole de Management
10 Durham Business School

Best in general management
1 Cems
2 Manchester Business School
3 City University: Cass
4 HEC Montreal
5 Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
6 Esade Business School
7 Essec Business School
8 Kozminski University
10 Imperial College Business School

Best in finance
1 Stockholm School of Economics
3 HEC Paris
4 Solvay Business School
5 Edhec Business School
6 ESCP Europe
7 Mannheim Business School
8 Helsinki School of Economics
9 Essec Business School
10 Esade Business School

Best in international business
1 Essec Business School
2 Cems
3 Manchester Business School
4 Maastricht University
5 Aston Business School
6 Grenoble Graduate School of Business
7 National Chengchi University
9 ESC Lille
10 Mannheim Business School

Best in economics
2 Mannheim Business School
3 Stockholm School of Economics
4 University of Cologne, Faculty of Management
6 Corvinus University of Budapest
7 National Chengchi University
8 HEC Montreal
9 Kozminski University
10 Manchester Business School

Best in corporate strategy
1 Essec Business School
2 HEC Paris
4 Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
5 Imperial College Business School
6 Esade Business School
7 City University: Cass
8 National Chengchi University
9 Aston Business School
10 HEC Montreal

Best in marketing
1 Mannheim Business School
2 Esade Business School
3 National Chengchi University
4 HEC Paris
5 Grenoble Graduate School of Business
6 Essec Business School
7 University of Bath School of Management
8 Kozminski University
9 HEC Montreal
10 Aston Business School

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