Single market, single degree?

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The European Masters in Management degree is becoming the degree of choice for Europe’s top employers, and French schools dominate the recruitment drive as well as the Financial Times ranking of European Masters in Management programmes.

The most powerful magnet for MSc graduates this year has been the City of London, where banks are paying a starting salary of £35,000 plus a sign-on bonus of £8,000 for top graduates. Those working in capital markets or investment banking could expect to double that in the first three years, giving them salaries similar to newly recruited MBAs. The starting salaries for MBAs in the City this year were £58,000.

Ellen Miller, managing director and head of European graduate recruitment and development at Lehman Brothers in London, says the demand for MSc graduates in banking has rocketed over the past two years and there is a growing interest in students for long internships.

Experience garnered in these internships, lasting for up to a year, are proving particularly popular with graduate recruiters. Alex Snelling, head of recruitment for UK and Ireland for L’Oréal, says the business experience gained, with the business acumen taught on the programmes and the number of languages graduates speak, have traditionally made the MScs from continental European business schools particularly attractive.

Schools such as ESCP-EAP and programmes such as Cems, ranked three and two in this year’s ranking, have built their reputation on requiring students to learn languages and study in different locations. Increasingly they are likely to see competition from other European schools.

This month, for example, the French business school EM Lyon announced it would launch a two-year European Master in Management degree with Aston Business School in the UK and LMU School of Management in Germany. The first intake will be in September 2007.

“The students will be taught in English but during the second year they will be able to take in the local language,” says Patrice Houdayer, director of EM Lyon’s Grande Ecole programme.

He believes the programme will be appropriate for the 2.4m bachelor degree holders who will graduate from Europe’s universities in 2010, when the Bolgna Accord is fully implemented. The accord, adopted by 45 countries, aims to develop a standard system of education based on the bachelor and master degree system rather than the longer five-year single degree system.

Eric Cornuel, director general of EFMD, the European accreditation body, is not so confident about implementation. “I wouldn’t say it is a mess, but people don’t see the full implications.” A recent EFMD survey of student perceptions of the Bologna reforms revealed that half the students surveyed had no in-depth knowledge of what they meant. Student confusion is perhaps unsurprising, as there are many interpretations of Bologna, says Davide Sola, UK director of ESCP-EAP. France and Italy, for example, have adopted a three-year bachelor and two-year master degree; Spain has opted for four years undergraduate and a one-year master programme; while Germany has opted for a three-year bachelor programme followed by an 18-month master system.

“At the end it will be up to the market to decide [which is successful]”, he says.

Meanwhile confusion between the MSc and MBA degrees still exist. Not only does the Parisian school Essec (see profile page 6) call its Grande Ecole programme an MBA, but there is overlap between other programmes.

Julien Guillemin, 25, this month graduated with both an MSc degree from the French school Audencia in Nantes, and an MBA from the University of Cincinnatti in the US, completing the final year of the Grande Ecole programme and the one year MBA programme simultaneously. He has returned to France to begin a career in the music industry.

The experience gave him the opportunity to compare the two types of degree. “They are more pragmatic in the US, there is less theory,” he says. “At Audencia we had more time to go deeply into subjects. On the MBA I was studying with people who had never studied business before.”

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