BAs want a more global perspective, and struggling young professionals want to expand their business knowledge — leading to bolstered enrollments
For Chris Carey, a 32-year-old West Point graduate who spent seven years in the U.S. Army and a few years as a Morgan Stanley MS financial adviser on the West Coast, deciding where to get an MBA came down to one thing: international exposure.
That’s why he passed on many of the top U.S. B-schools, instead choosing the one-year MBA course at the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School in Belgium. ‘It’s important to understand how people from different countries do different things in different ways,’ Carey says.
BusinessWeek reports that Carey’s rationale mirrors that of many U.S. students who have crossed the Atlantic to attend European business schools such as INSEAD in France, IESE in Spain, or London Business School in Britain. Now the global economic crisis is adding extra incentive to head back to school.
Across the Continent, B-school applications are up by roughly one-third over the last 18 months as recruiting dries up in sectors such as financial services and consulting that typically absorb a large number of young businesspeople. Recent college grads also find themselves squaring off for jobs against seasoned professionals who have been tossed out of work, so many are opting instead for graduate school.
Students, deans, admissions officers, and career advisers at European business schools see this as an opportunity. The downturn, they say, calls for global solutions—which boosts the appeal of European programs that can boast up to 50 nationalities in a single MBA class.
The response to the recession also has swung the pendulum back toward more government intervention in the market. Many European countries, though perhaps not Britain, have practiced that approach for years and can claim to understand it better.
‘The American model of shareholder value hasn’t worked out so well,” says George Yip, dean of the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands. “That has turned attention toward the European model, and what better place to learn about it than in a European country?’
The increase in applications to European B-schools owes in part to a long-standing trend, as more students look to add international flavor to their résumés.
Aside from more globalization, the other big factor driving up European B-school applications is the economy. It’s typical during downturns that twenty-something professionals who might have worked for a few more years before starting an MBA decide to jump in early.
Karen Siegfried, executive director of MBA admissions at the University of Cambridge’s Judge School of Business, says she’s now seeing less experienced candidates applying to the one-year course. ‘Many want to get out of the financial services industry and retool,’ she says.
Alas, a year away from the carnage may not provide much respite. Career officers across the Continent reckon many students could find it hard going when they reenter the job market
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