The Financial Times has revealed its 2020 ranking of the best business schools in Europe. There are a total of 90 ranked schools, with campuses in 20 European countries. France and the UK take the lead with the most institutions featured in this edition.
Next to announcing the ranking, the prestigious business publication also delved into the most significant trends for business schools on the old continent over the past year. One of them is the surge in applications for postgraduate management degree courses.
How did European institutions manage to rise above the challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic and increase their application volumes?
Europe draws in ambitious internationals
Business and management degrees in Europe have long attracted students from many different parts of the world – a trend that is not as strong in North America, for example. A GMAC survey shows that 68% of European schools have reported an increase in international applications, compared with 47% of US schools.
The fact that important business hubs such as London, Amsterdam, and Berlin are a direct flight away from most continents could be one explanation, says Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and chief executive.
In general, Europe boasts some of the world’s oldest and most reputable institutions of higher education. Tuition fees for prestigious MBA and Master’s degrees on the old continent are often much lower than their US counterparts.
Europe – home to the Master’s in Management
GMAC’s president offered another important explanation for the popularity of European courses – the Master’s in Management.
Many young professionals who are in their 20s and eager to prepare for a jobs market that is becoming more competitive choose to pursue further higher education in Europe, according to Sangeet Chowfla.
“A lot of Master’s in Management growth has come from China, where the one-child policy has made parents more concerned about safety when their children go to university,” Mr Chowfla highlighted for the Financial Times. “It is a feast for European business schools, which is likely to continue into 2021,” he added.
Many students chose to defer
While applications are on the rise, there is another metric worth analysing – enrolment growth. Many of the business school candidates who sent in their applications in 2020 and gained admission eventually chose to defer their enrolment and start their course in the next academic year.
“We have seen a decrease in yields as the percentage of students accepted has dropped. Requests for deferrals of places have almost doubled globally,” Sangeet Chowfla explained. In the midst of a global pandemic, when travel has been challenging and there have been delays in issuing visas, applicants choosing to postpone their studies is understandable.
European schools were quick to adapt
Despite expectations for a difficult year for schools worldwide, institutions in Europe managed to handle the situation better than expected. Fears about students being unable to travel to campuses proved relatively groundless, according to FT contributor Jonathan Moules.
Online teaching comes with its challenges, but postgraduate programmes were able to transition smoothly. European campuses were also quick on their feet to offer their students the option to safely attend classes in person through blended formats.