Old World Rising?

Although the United States is still the number-one destination for business school, European MBA programs are making huge strides to catch up by offering shorter, smaller, cheaper and more diverse programs, businessweek.com reports. Increased corporate demand for employees with international experience, coupled with Europe’s dynamic business climate, has lured in top-notch candidates from all over the world.

U.S. applications to the elite French business school INSEAD grew 20% in the past year, and the school’s 2008 enrollment of Americans grew nearly 24% since 2007, to 73 students. Likewise, Barcelona’s IESE Business School received 32% more applications from the U.S. this year than last, and expects to enroll 35 Americans in the next class-an increase of 60%. Another Barcelona-based institution, ESADE, has fielded so many inquiries from Americans about its full-time MBA programs that it has begun encouraging them to wait until next year to apply.

According to the businessweek.com story, INSEAD’s dean, Frank Brown, says ever more young people are recognizing the value of an MBA but don’t want to spend two years earning one-the length of most U.S. programs. Others credit the U.S. recession. “Probably, the economic fear is making people think that it’s a good year for education,” says Olaya Garcia, ESADE’s director of full-time MBA programs.

Even with the dollar’s disastrous exchange rate, prospective American students can still find a good deal overseas. Tuition at the top 10 European schools averages less than $73,000, vs. $86,600 at Harvard Business School, and about $95,000 at Wharton. Only one elite European program costs more than the Wharton degree: IESE’s 18-month full-time MBA–long, by European standards–at about $102,000.

Many European schools offer courses on corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, and doing business in developing countries in an effort to address the needs of those looking to pursue social justice through business. In 2004, Instituto de Empresa Business School in Madrid, another elite institution, founded the Center for Eco-Intelligent Management to teach sustainable business practices. That same year Oxford opened the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, which provides five MBA scholarships a year.

The repercussions for Europe’s MBA programs remain to be seen, but the present outlook is bright: applications are up, admissions are increasingly selective, and more companies want multilingual recruits with global polish. With the number of programs specializing in disciplines such as entrepreneurship, finance, and corporate social responsibility on the rise, Europe remains a compelling locale for MBA education. Watch your back, Wharton!

Source: businessweek.com

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