Archive for July, 2009

Built on firm foundations

July 15, 2009

A California-based foundation, which aims to strengthen American-Israeli relations, has stumped up $12m to help build a new business school in Haifa. The Andre and Katherine Merage Foundation’s gift to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology should see the new school—to be named the Andre and Katherine Merage-Technion Institute for International Business—open in 2010. It will offer an English-only International Executive MBA focused on the high-tech sector, and three Centres of Excellence aimed at helping Israel’s high-tech companies penetrate markets in the U.S, Europe and Asia.

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Closed for business

July 15, 2009

Angry students are trying to secure a refund from a Singaporean business school which was closed down after it was found to be offering fake degrees. The Brookes Business School, which claimed its qualifications were from well-known academic institutions, including the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, had around 400 students enrolled; its programmes cost up to S$12,000 ($8,333). A report on channelnewsasia.com, suggested that all foreign students enrolled at the school—around 200 in total—would automatically be covered by an insurance scheme run by Singapore’s consumer association and should receive refunds. However many local students, for whom the scheme was optional, would have to try their luck in a smalls claims tribunal.

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Ins and outs

July 10, 2009

The student:staff ratio at Harvard Business School will be taking a hit after it laid off staff and then announced a record intake for its MBA programme. Sixteen staff are being made redundant by the school, which has seen its $3bn endowment fund hit by the economic crisis. The total number of jobs lost will be increased once the non-replacement of retiring and temporary employees is taken into consideration. However, no faculty will affected.

The downturn has not been all bad news for HBS, though. On the positive side, the school’s 2011 MBA programme will be the largest ever, with 942 students already enrolled—42 more than the last intake—which it is attributing, at least in part, to uncertain times. A sluggish job market often leads to more people taking MBAs. Indeed a high proportion of enrolees have come from the beleaguered financial services sector.

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A French connection

July 7, 2009

Two French business schools—CERAM, based in the Sophia Antipolis technology park, close to Nice, and ESC Lille—have announced a surprise merger. Once joined, the new school will have 5,600 students and 138 permanent professors—which it claims will make it the largest in France.

In many ways the two schools appear to be a natural fit, bringing together a full range of management programmes, including undergraduate, specialised Masters, MBA, PhD and executive education programmes. Furthermore, closer co-operation between business schools is being encouraged by the French government, which is keen that the country develops more large-scale business schools to compete internationally—currently, outside of the market leaders, INSEAD and HEC Paris, the sector is dominated by small and mid-sized players. Indeed, the new institution is looking to use its increased clout to expand aggressively abroad. It is planning to open an American campus in 2010, the location of which is still to be decided, but like CERAM, is likely to be in a technology park and not in one of the major cities. It then expects to roll out further international campuses in subsequent years.

However, despite the obvious advantages, perhaps the biggest obstacle to a successfully integrated school—which is still to be named—will be geography. The two schools are located at opposing tips of France: CERAM in the south-east; Lille in the north. It will continue to run a campus in each location. Even taking into account France’s fabulous transport network, merging two institutions over 1,000km apart will not be easy, something that Alice Guilhon, its dean, readily accepts. Nevertheless, Dr Guilhon has given herself the ambitious task of successfully integrating the two faculties within a year.

Other recent intra-national mergers of European schools, such as between Henley and the University of Reading in the UK, have not only had the benefit of economies of scale and complimentary areas of strength, but also of proximity. In another recent French example two nearby schools—ESC Rouen and Reims—launched a joint campus in Paris, which itself may evolve into a fully-fledged merger. Expect such unions to be a sign of things to come. François Bonvalet, Reims’ dean, says that in France mid-sized schools will soon find themselves caught between two poles: large international schools and small, often locally-focused niche players. The choice will be to merge and become big enough to compete, or to downsize. Few ambitious schools will seek the latter.

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