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Europe’s Business Schools Are Bending Over Backwards To Attract African MBAs

Despite widespread demand, the African applicant pool is small

Mon Sep 19 2016

BusinessBecause
Demand for African MBA applicants is high. Business schools want to diversity their classes and they know African talent can be formidable once they get individuals on their programs.

Yet the African applicant pool is small. The number of GMAT-takers over the past five years has stagnated, and the average GMAT score for African applicants lags well behind the global average. At London Business School (LBS), African MBA students make up less than 5% of the class.

“We’d like to see more candidates applying,” says MBA admissions director David Simpson. “With Africa, a lot of it comes down to financial aid and scholarships. If we’re interested in making a difference, we need to put our money where our mouth is.”

A full-time MBA at LBS costs over $90,000. With economic growth, there is increasing demand for graduate business education in Africa. Yet for Africans looking to high-quality, accredited MBA programs in Europe, affordability is key.

LBS works with p2p loan provider Prodigy Finance, whose post-graduate loans are opening up opportunities for international students. It also has its own general scholarships which, David admits, African students do proportionately well in securing.

And LBS MBAs are taking matters into their own hands. French 2016 grad Romain Assunção was the first non-African president of the school’s Africa Club.

During his tenure, he connected African MBAs with executives at Bain and McKinsey, set up an early scholarship fund for African masters in management applicants, and held the largest ever LBS Africa Business Summit attracting 550 attendees.

Romain had 35 African LBS students in his team, of 17 different nationalities. But he says it’s not enough. “The major blocks are around the cost and having access to information. How do I get in, what’s the profile they’re looking for; that’s what we’re trying to address with the club.”

Four miles across London, Cass Business School is in the same situation, with not more than 5% of its full-time MBA class from Africa. And most from the usual Sub-Saharan suspects; South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Although this year it welcomes a Senegalese student; the result of a targeted regional scholarship.

While scholarships are crucial, some schools are engaged in more direct outreach. IE Business School’s Nigerian office in Lagos supports local applicants at each stage of their MBA journey; with financial planning, visa support and test prep.

It’s had some success. The Spanish school has 30 Nigerian students on its MBA program and 60 alumni. “There is an increasing number of MBA applicants due to more awareness about IE and an increase in financing options,” explains IE alumna and head of the Nigerian office Onyekachi Eke.

Maastricht School of Management (MSM) is a Dutch school with extensive links to emerging markets. Although the Netherlands Fellowship Program - a Dutch government scholarship which once ensured easy access to African MBA applicants – faces continued cuts in funding, still roughly a third of MSM’s full-time MBA students come from Sub-Saharan Africa each year.

“We go to great lengths to help them obtain scholarships and get them into the program,” says the school’s South African dean Wim Naudé.

“When students from Africa come to MSM, they tend to do very well,” he continues. “They’re motivated to make a success of their careers, and they have an acute awareness of the importance of the role of business in development and in supporting communities in Africa.”

MSM’s impressive list of African MBA alumni include the governor of the Central Bank of Rwanda and an impactful graduate who received the 2012 STARS Impact Award for helping to combat female genital mutilation in Ethiopia.

Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School is another European institution dealing with government cuts on scholarships. Yet it is gaining traction within Africa.

“We’ve been going to South Africa and Kenya and we hold one-to-one meetings with students," says South African admissions manager Thuli Skosana. “A lot of our teaching is by doing, and the more varied the experience of the cohort, the richer the learning.”

Diversity is the key for all Europe’s top b-schools. And despite the obstacles in reaching out to Africa, David is positive about the future.

“We’re not going to see a tenfold increase in two years, but the only way is up,” he says. “When you look at the continent and the global investment and corporations coming in, the very best will want to have highly talented local employees to help them do business.

“Those employees will have to be trained at accredited, high quality institutions and have the skills and network that the companies need.”

Student Reviews

Bayes Business School

Student

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Best Journalism school in Europe

When I first stepped onto the campus of City, University of London, I knew I was in for a ride - and not just on the Tube! With its vibrant energy and an impressive repertoire of programs, City U became my home away from home. The Journalism program was kind of a big deal. Rumour was that we were the best in Europe! The lecturers were not just experts in their field; they’re practically journalistic royalty. They were invested, passionate, and had a knack for turning the most flat press release into a riveting news story. With their guidance, I’ve learned to navigate the chaotic world of media like a pro. The campus was a melting pot of every culture, being that we had such a diverse international crowd. Being in the heart of London, I had the world at my fingertips - there was always a new corner to explore, a hidden gem of a cafe to discover, or a street performer! City, University of London wasn't just a university; it was a chapter in my life story that I’ll never forget.

Lydia

Verified

23/02/2023

On Campus

Learning environment

The teacher-learner ration is manageable, giving each learner a chance to gain personal attention. It is also easier following up on the progress of a student, as the numbers per class is not large. the conducive environment for learning includes clean classes, standard desks, world class instructional facilities and the opportunity to engage lecturers even after their sessions. The team spirit at City is above board, with learners getting chance to learn both from instructors and colleagues. This is the university of choice; the place to be.

Nathaniel

Verified

24/01/2023

On Campus

Classes

I liked that each class had a manageable number of learners, making the professor-learner ratio favor knowledge acquisition. I also liked that study schedules were manageable, and not overwhelming. The focus on talents and gifts even within the learning environment makes it possible for learners to achieve the best of their potential, and this has worked to the advantage of those that have schooled at City, University of London

Muhammad

Verified

24/01/2023

On Campus

Classes

The diversity at City University facilitates interactions and is a direction toward the unity of the world. The classes are well built to match the number and needs of all students regardless of the elements of diversity that set people apart. The use of technology in delivery makes learning even more interesting and achievable. At City University there is no distinction pegged on the issues that make people unique.

Dorah

Verified

23/01/2023

On Campus

professors

The team of lecturers at the Uiversity are well experienced. Their level of insight and the methodologies of delivery works for the interes of the leaeners. My learning experience was largely boosted by the level of knowledge of the professors at the institution, and their passion to transfer the same to learners. I appreciate every class I attended because of the level of insight I was able to gather

Nora

Verified

17/12/2022

On Campus

The best university I’ve been to

The campus and the people I've met have made it a wonderful experience. I was reared in a small town with a graduating class of only 88 individuals, so moving to City University was a huge adjustment for me. My dorm has more residents than my whole high school combined! I enjoy the atmosphere here, and everyone is so friendly. Outstanding academic options and a stunning campus. Really great from beginning to end. The educators genuinely love what they do, and the students are ready to learn. On or around college, there is always something to do with friends, and the social scene is particularly warm.

Antonia

Verified

21/11/2022

On Campus

Bayes Business School

As a student at City university attending Bayes Business School I would totally recommend choosing this university as the experience is exceptional with great social networking opportunities . Professors are significantly helpful, delivering with excellence and professionalism. Everyone is happy to help and make you feel welcomed in such an esteem university as City, offering exceptional development and guidance through out the course.

Muhammad

Verified

15/11/2022

On Campus

Economics and Politics

Incredibly amazing university, the way they polish students and help them boost their morale and think intellectually is worthwhile. Many universities have international partnerships to allow exchanges between their students. The most obvious subjects for these opportunities would be those that involve languages, and the study of people and places.

Navya

Verified

11/11/2022

On Campus

Clinical biology

I really like it it’s perfect for me with not too many people and not too few either. All the modules are amazing. I love the toy bar. I love all the societies that I’ma part of. Especially the colour Bollywood society

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