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Here’s Why Europe’s Business Schools Are Chomping At The Bit Over Brexit

We spoke to HEC Paris, IESE and 5 more European business schools outside the UK to find out more

Wed Oct 19 2016

Since the shock of June’s EU Referendum result, Brexit has been a major source of concern for business schools in the UK. But for mainland European business schools, it’s an opportunity to take advantage of.

The true consequences of Brexit are yet to be seen. A falling pound could make UK-based MBA programs cheaper.

However, if the UK economy deteriorates and if multinational corporations leave London, high-quality job placements will suffer, putting UK-based students’ careers at risk. UK business schools will become less attractive for students. And, if EU research funding is cut, for faculty too.

It’s a tale of “ifs,” but already things are changing. At Belgium’s Antwerp Management School, EMBA applications from India and China are up. Grenoble École de Management has opened a new MBA campus in Berlin. HEC Paris and IESE Business School are looking increasingly towards Germany.

We spoke to senior faculty at some of continental Europe’s leading business schools, to find out more.

François Collin, associate dean for international affairs at HEC Paris, France

HEC just opened a new representative office in Germany.

We all agree that Brexit is bad news. As a school, we very much regret Brexit because we very much support EU ambitions and a strong interconnected Europe.

Even so, there’s a strong probability that Brexit will make UK business schools less attractive, and strong European schools like HEC more attractive, to international students and faculty

Our British colleagues are concerned, and rightly so. The main issue is related to job placements and the UK economy. If institutions leave London, then they will be impacted.

Jean-François Fiorina, vice dean at Grenoble École de Management, France

Grenoble has campuses in both the UK and France.

It’s not just Brexit. For the past three years, the UK government has been hard on student visas for foreigners. We’ve had a high decline of non-EU students on our London campus. So we’ve decided to open a new campus in Berlin.

50% of our activities could be negatively impacted by Brexit, and 50% positively impacted. We need to continue with the UK. The question is how.


Peter Daly, director of the Master in Management at EDHEC Business School, France

It’s definitely the time for European business schools to recruit UK faculty.

UK schools will suffer with regard to EU research funding schemes, like Horizon 2020. And, without the funding, it will be less interesting for faculty in the UK. I know that a lot of deans at business schools in Europe are headhunting faculty in the UK.

There are about 125,000 European students that go to the UK every year. Brexit is an opportunity to attract these students. And, with the globalization of business education, we’ll also see more and more MBA students coming from the UK to France.

Peter Rafferty, EMBA director at Antwerp Management School, Belgium

While it’s not on its own, there’s been a significant increase in applications from countries and cultures which previously would have looked first at the UK, but are now looking at mainland Europe.

In India and China, interest has exploded in the last few months. Honestly, we are not doing any recruitment efforts in those markets. The sudden surge in interest has been overwhelming.

Why? It’s not a wise choice to consider going to the UK given the public statements of the British people and their politicians. It’s probably better to gain access to a market of 240 million people than to a self-confessed, closed environment of 60 million people that doesn’t want foreigners amongst them.

Dennis Vink, MBA director at Nyenrode Business Universiteit, the Netherlands

We expect to see an increase in applications for our full-time MBA.

The success of a European business school is largely dependent on its location and, to be more precise, whether it’s located in a stable and prosperous economic region. Brexit will, without a doubt, have a negative consequence on the economy of the UK.

We’ve moved one of our five European Immersion Modules from London to Paris to ensure that the participants in our program experience the core of European business.


Arjen van Witteloostuijn, founding dean at the Tilburg School of Governance, the Netherlands

Brexit may be good news for continental European business schools. Not only may applications from other EU countries go up, but also from outside the EU, as a UK visa will no longer offer free movement to the rest of Europe.

Whether the UK will continue to take part in European student exchange programs is a question mark. The bottleneck is free movement of people. You cannot have your cake and eat it. Either the UK opt in to the internal market and hence the free movement of people, or not.

Marc Badia, MBA director at IESE Business School, Spain

I expect European Business Schools to continue to do well in the years to come.

Recent GMAC applications figure show that, in contrast to the US, Europe is continuing to be a big draw for MBA candidates. And we have actually expanded our incoming MBA class this year by 22%.

No one knows yet the real implications of Brexit. But if London ends up losing weight as a financial center to, for instance Frankfurt, IESE has a strong presence in Germany that we could certainly capitalize on.