HE News Brief 29.3.11

by Abby Chau



  • UNITED KINGDOM: British Government backtracks on proposed policies to curtail immigration
  • CHINA: Peking University introduces controversial student screening
  • AUSTRALIA: Australian business leaders call for dergulation of student fees
  • UNITED STATES: US News & World Report produce MBA ranking based on student yield
  • UNITED KINGDOM: University of Wales under review by Quality Assurance Agency

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HE News Brief 15.2.11

by Abby Chau

  • A 346-page report on business school trends has just been released by the Association to Advance Collegiate schools of Business following an intensive three year study by deans and scholars from top b-schools. The finding show that business schools have an uphill battle in terms of successfully implementing internationalisation strategies. Many courses, particularly in the states, focus more on study abroad programmes than internationalisation strategies and concentrate on North American rather than global markets.
    Full Story: Chronicle of Higher Education

  • It looks like the Lib Dems will finally have some talking points about the tuition fee hikes – Universities Minister David Willetts announced that institutions who want to charge more than £6,000 must comply with requirements to admit more poorer students. As a strategy to counteract the tuition fee hikes due to commence in 2012, the coalition government has decided that universities charging higher fees must work with the Office for Fair Access (Offa) to establish targets for accessibility. Willetts also announced that institutions charging more fees will also have to participate in the National Scholarship Programme, which will eventually help 48,000 disadvantaged students. There are of course critics of the announcement who are saying such an initiative will not do very much to offset the damage the fees will in incur in terms of social mobility.
    Full Story: BBC News
    More: Guardian
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HE News Brief 18.1.11

by Abby Chau

  • An academic paper entitled Ivies, Extracurriculars, and Exclusion: Credentialism in Elite Labor Markets is about to tell us what we assumed all along – elite businesses only recruit from elite institutions. A new study by a Northwestern professor says that top firms and investment banks only hire from the top five – Harvard, Wharton, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford. According to the report, applicants not from the top five go into the ‘black hole’ and are subsequently dismissed. The professor also found that it is not important how applicants from the big five perform whilst in the institution but rather the perceived prestige is what really counts.
    Full Story: Examiner

  • President Hugo Chavez has announced that he would veto a controversial new education law which would have given the government more control over universities. President Chavez’s supporters introduced several new laws last December before the newly elected parliament was due in office. The educational reform law would make universities comply with national development plans in all decision-making processes as well as changing the power structure for budgetary decisions. President Chavez said that his government was willing to recognise and amend mistakes. Critics are saying that the president’s hand was forced as opposition to the measure grew in recent weeks.
    Full Story: BBC News
    More: Wall Street Journal
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HE News Briefs 6.9.10

by Abby Chau

Here are this week’s news stories:

  • Imperial College is the latest UK universities to have a foreign branch now that it is teaming up with the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The goal is that by 2013, 50 students will be admitted with the intention of incrementally building the overall student body to 750. According to the FT, more foreign students get a UK university qualification studying in foreign branches than they do studying in Britain. British Ministers are also looking toward India as a lucrative region to set up more campuses. Estimates show that India needs 1,500 universities to accommodate demand; right now they only have 350.
    Full Story: FT
  • The current economic instability is largely to blame for the current higher education budget cuts. It looks like Business Schools are weathering the storm, particularly when it comes to constructing new shiny buildings to attract students.  Yale has plans to construct a 180 million building designed by the legendary Lord Norman Foster. Wealthy b-school alums are donating big bucks for elite universities like Chicago, Wharton, and MIT to lavish their business department with velvet seats.
    Full Story: Business Week
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Shifts in the MBA market

by Susan Gatuguta Gitau


The current recession has had a huge impact on the MBA market from enrolment rates to study plans and course duration. The 2009 QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey has shed light on various key findings. For example, enrolment in Executive MBA (EMBA) programs has seen a decline. This is an indication that most candidates feel they will have less access to corporate sponsorship – traditionally associated with EMBAs – than ever before.

There has also been a noticeable decrease in interest in two-year programs and increase in one-year programs. This is reflected in the significant decrease in candidates interested in studying in the US, which predominately runs two-year programs, and in light of the recession is much more costly than in comparison to Australia and Europe. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Application Trends survey 2009 draws the same observation, “One-year full-time MBA programs reported the strongest application volume. Nearly 7 in 10 indicated growth in the number of applications received.” The GMAC report goes on to point out, “Whereas in 2008 the United States spearheaded the growth in the number of applications to full-time MBA programs, it appears that growth in 2009 was primarily driven by programs located in other world regions across all MBA program types.”

A significant increase in the number of female applicants, up 7% from 2008, represents a visible shift in MBA applicant demographics. Nonetheless, women continue to believe that they will receive lower salaries than their male counterparts after graduating from an MBA program. This seems to be a widely held view according to Diana Middleton , Education Reporter at the Wall Street Journal. She says, “Despite having similar educational backgrounds and experience, female MBA-holders are still not getting the same pay, positions, or promotions as their male colleagues.” Read more

Business schools to blame for the credit crunch?

by Ben Sowter


When travelling around the world on various airlines it is often easy to lose touch with what might be going on at home, so seldom does a UK newspaper pass by your eyes. Yesterday I managed to pick up a copy of the Financial Times (Europe edition no less) at the airport in Seoul before flying to Tokyo – Monday’s edition of course, but nonetheless…

Right under the masthead was the headline “Has the credit crunch tarnished the MBA?”. Turning to page 10 revealed a very interesting article from Della Bradshaw including comment from Deans of a number of leading business schools on the role of business schools in the development of the current financial crisis. I found an online version of the article here – http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a2353870-53c4-11de-be08-00144feabdc0.html

Of particular interest is the contrast between comments from the Dean of the Krannert School at Purdue and those from the Dean of IE Business School – who seem to occupy opposite corners in the debate. Despite the opposing views both standpoints seem to be valid. Perhaps business schools have had a part to play in the education of many of the architects of this financial downfall, but they cannot take full responsibility for the MORAL education of their graduates. As the NRA consistently preach, owning a gun does not a murderer make. Business Schools may have had a part in the provision of the tools, but less so in the manner of their use.

The conclusion of the article and those accompanying it seem to be clear though, the MBA needs to evolve, as business is evolving and the general feeling is that this evolution is unlikely to begin at the top US Business Schools.

Financial factors can be a dangerous measure

by Ben Sowter


Many people have frequently suggested that financial indicators ought to be considered in rankings of institutions and the logic is clear – potential things that could be considered are:

  • Average Fees
  • Return on Investment
  • Average Salary upon Graduation
  • Investment per Student
  • Library Spending
  • Total Research Funding
  • Share of Government Research Funding

Whilst this might make a lot of sense in an individual domestic context that may not necessarily be the case when the ranking exercise in question has a broader scope. The fundamental objective of almost any ranking (and there appear to be some exceptions) is to evaluate the performance of the institution. Sadly, most if not all financial indicators are subject to external economic influences which are very difficult to adjust for. This has drawn the conclusion from the THE-QS team that financial indicators are unlikely to ever be practical for the global exercise.

Business schools are amongst the most familiar with rankings – the Financial Times and Business Week rankings, amongst others, have been running for some time and are well established. In contrast to many domestic exercises the FT is very open with its historical results. The chart below shows the number of UK business schools appearing in the top 50 against the Interbank Dollar-Sterling exchange rate on January 1st of each year. Whilst there isn’t a perfect match the trend certainly seems to be that the strength of UK schools is strongly linked to the strength of the pound.

Comparison of UK business school performance in FT rankings against exchange rates

Comparison of UK business school performance in FT rankings against January exchange rates

Sadly, no business school has yet been able to establish a great deal of influence over comparative currency strength or the global economy as a whole. So this effect is completely outside their influence and invalidates the ranking as a whole as a serious performance measure.

The steep decline in the strength of the pound is likely to make 2010 a very difficult year for UK universities in ranking terms and any investment they make in improving teaching or research is unlikely to significantly assist their situation. Graduates from UK schools – although highly international – are likely to accept lower salaries on graduation even outside the UK with exchange rates as they stand and UK salaries are worth less.

No ranking is perfect – even those most established and accepted. Any set of results need to be put in context.