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Best European Business Schools In 2018, According To The Financial Times

Business education in Europe appears to be booming, so which schools are the best?

Mon Dec 3 2018

Business education in Europe appears to be booming, with the latest figures from GMAC showing year-over-year growth in applications from candidates attracted to the shorter MBA courses, cheaper fees, and diverse cohorts of students.  

Even in the UK, previously assumed to suffer from Brexit, the education market is in fact flourishing, helped no doubt by the fall in the pound since the 2016 EU referendum. The UK maintained its dominance in the FT’s European Business Schools 2018 ranking, published today. London Business School held its spot at the top of the table, for the fifth year on the trot.

Check out the most recent Best European Business Schools Ranking

All told, there were 22 UK schools ranked this year, behind France with 25 ranked schools. But there were more UK schools in the top-25 of the ranking than any other nation—including Oxford Saïd, Warwick, Cambridge Judge, and Cass Business School.

The FT’s ranking of the best European business schools is compiled based on its rankings of individual programs—full-time MBA, EMBA, master’s in management, and executive education.

HEC Paris came second place overall, with its Trium EMBA, a joint program with other schools, ranked top in Europe. HEC is followed by INSEAD, of both France and Singapore, which offers Europe’s top full-time MBA and boasts graduate salaries of $177,157—the highest of all European schools ranked by the FT.

EMBA rankings data quoted here is only for standalone programs and not joint EMBA programs offered by multiple schools.

Also in the top-10 are Swiss schools IMD, top for open-enrolment executive education; and St Gallen, which has the world’s best master’s in management program; IESE of Spain, notable for its top European ranking for custom executive education courses; SDA Bocconi in Italy; Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands; and France’s ESSEC, which rose from 23rd place last year to eighth today.

LBS received top honours again because of its strong position in the component rankings. Its standalone EMBA has been in the global top-20 since 2015, and was ranked 14th this year. LBS was also the first European school to reach the top of the FT’s Global MBA ranking, in 2009, joint with Wharton. It leads the UK when it comes to business education, with the overall British market also benefiting from falling application volume in the US.

What’s more, the government’s apprenticeship levy, which compels large UK employers to invest in workforce training, has also buoyed British schools. It is noteworthy that Cranfield School of Management, one of the best performers of the FT’s European ranking this year; rising 23 places to finish 17th, was an early adopter of levy-friendly MBA courses.

There are 95 European schools ranked by the FT overall this year, not just in the UK and France but also Germany, Belgium, Portugal, and Ireland. Elsewhere, there are a few schools ranked that are in Finland, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Austria and more countries. The University of Economics in Prague surged by 26 places to 60 this year, while the Irish Management Institute is the highest new entrant, in 76th place.

This paints a picture of a thriving continental business education market, with GMAC data showing a 3.2% growth in applications in Europe this year, excluding the UK. There are still plenty of headwinds, with Brexit uncertainty, the rise of populism across Europe, and political turbulence all concerning for business schools.

So far, however, this has done little to dampen the diversity of the continental cohorts, with 63% of European schools enjoying growth in international student applications this year, GMAC reports. 

That has been one of the key selling points, and will likely continue to help European schools flourish as the US experiences falling demand from foreigners amid the Trump administration’s protectionist agenda.