FT’s New MBA Ranking Out Monday

The new 2012 global MBA ranking of The Financial Times will come out this Monday, Jan. 30th—and one of the most interesting issues will be whether Britain’s best business schools suffer a significant decline on the list.

In gathering data for its 14th annual ranking, the British newspaper has already reported that enrollment at the United Kingdom’s best 16 full-time MBA programs has fallen by 10% in a single year, with an even steeper fall of some 15% for domestic students. The 16 programs, which include London Business School as well as the business schools at Oxford and Cambridge, are those ranked by The Financial Times.

The paper quoted the director of MBA programs at Nottingham University Business School, John Colley, who estimated that over the past three years the number of qualified applicants to accredited U.K. business schools had fallen by about 35%. Meantime, the Association of MBAs, a British accreditation group, reported that between 2008 and 2010, the number of students enrolled at 43 of its accredited schools in the U.K. dropped more than 14% to 8,082 from 9,429.

Drops in enrollment can be directly correlated to a significantly smaller applicant pools as well as a decline in the overall quality of MBA candidates. That, in turn, can put downward pressure on GMAT and GPA averages, and later on, pressure on compensation which accounts for 40% of the FT’s methodology for ranking programs. So it’s very possible that U.K. schools will fare less well in the new Financial Times survey that comes out on Monday.

Last year, only one British school managed to crack The FT’s Top 25 list: London Business School, which tied with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School for first place. Some 13 of the top 25 were based in the U.S. The Brits did better in the top 50, landing seven places, while exactly half of the programs—25 out of 50—were based in the U.S.

It was only two years ago in 2010 when The Financial Times’s made much hoopla over what it called “the diminishing dominance” of U.S. based business schools over the previous decade.

The British newspaper, in a commentary on its global MBA rankings in 2010, noted that only 11 of the top 25 schools on its list were now U.S., a dramatic decline from the 20 U.S. players in 1999 when The Financial Times first started ranking MBA programs.

The newspaper attributed the fall to declines in the degree’s return on investment, especially in the U.S. The Financial Times observed that while it had been commonplace for graduates to triple their pre-MBA salaries three years after graduation, those returns are now rare.

With the significant declines in enrollment at U.K. schools, it would not be surprising if more of them fell out of the top 50 this time around. The enrollment problem is the result of new visa restrictions on graduates so that MBAs no longer have the automatic right to work in the U.K. for two years after graduation as they once did.

“Overseas students like the option of working here for a spell for the experience before they go back,” Nottingham’s Colley told The Financial Times. “The new visa restrictions are killing that.”

Added Lindsay Duke, postgraduate recruitment manager at Durham Business School: “I think the message out there is that the UK is closed to students.”


  • Rodrigo

    Hey, are you still there?
    Hope you can help me!

    I have been accepted by both Said and Judge, and now have to make that hard decision.
    For some reason, I used to believe that Said has a stronger focus on Finances (which is not my area and way outside my goals), but now I cannot find anything that reinforces that.

    What do you have to say? Is the MBA in Oxford general enough for us to get a good education on all the core areas of an MBA, or is the focus indeed too great on Finances?

  • khagan

    I did a quick LinkedIn search and found the following Oxford MBAs in top- tier private equity….

    – Arsalan Mian, MD, BlackRock PE, NYC
    – Harj Shoan, Dir., Morgan Stanley PE, London
    – Christian Paul, Dir., Permira, Hong Kong

    …and some guy called Joseph McCarthy who’s on the list of top 40 under 40 hedge fund managers to watch in London. Why is it that people attack schools without fact checking and blindly follow the rankings?

  • Nicholas Pontt

    Dear All,

    I’d like to raise my hand (and Trinity college goblet) in support of my Oxford colleague, Bayo.

    Granted, the decision where to commence the next chapter of one’s career is personal and there are myriad competing considerations if you are at this juncture, but from my perspective, I could not recommend Said more.

    Like many prospective MBA candidates, I had a strong GMAT score and several years’ work experience – in my case as a City lawyer – but I chose only to apply to Said and Judge, eventually opting for the former over the latter. It was a tough decision but I have never looked back.

    This has been such an amazing, in fact overwhelming, experience already, only one Term in. Granted, we are a young school, but this is one year in an ancient institution, which for 800 years has produced leaders in almost every field imaginable, and I am confident this will continue, including in the business sphere. One year in a vibrant new school, amongst an extremely talented, truly diverse, passionate and energetic cohort. One year in a school bursting with the innovation and momentum brought by our new dean out of Harvard. One year ensconced in the truly integrated, cross-disciplinary collegiate system, benefiting from and adding to the breadth and depth of true intellectual diversity and rigour.

    Talking to my direct experience, Said and Oxford is a place where the focus is not solely on fulfilling the drone space of cookie-cutter jobsworthery – of course, there are many of us seeking (and securing) careers in traditional roles, but an MBA for a true professional is not really about a brand and looking to find a highly paid safety net – it is about contributing to, experiencing and learning from, and exhanging with, a unique, driven, passionate cohort, and adding yourself, and as a collective, to the institution
    you join. Apart from having a hell of a lot of fun out here (seriously, this place is awesome!), I am truly searching within myself and my new found friends for what I think any ambitious, hopeful leader seeks and believes he or she has; the ability to be extraordinary, and really do something that makes a difference, in whatever shape or form that takes.

    If it would be of help, I would welcome inquiries and provide honest, first- hand answers to any interested person – I can be reached at nick.pontt@trinity.ox.ac.uk. In the meantime, my best wishes to all in pursuing their passions, whether prospective, current, past or would-never-consider-it MBAs!


  • Ramni


    avg age at top US schools is around 26 to 27, at INSEAD is around 29 to 30. generally, most of INSEAD students come with better business experience than their peers at US. for this, the length of the program is understandable though many students complain about its fast rhythm. please note, if you want longer program then consider IE, it is great and employers know it well.
    so, the point is: for every smart and mature prospective applicant: focus on fit factor and which school can serve your career goals, don’t be taken by just brand or any other emotional aspects. there are Harvard alumni who didn’t make any success and really disappointed as well as from INSEAD, and there are extremely successful people who did their MBA from unknown schools (Gannon and Vikram). if any MBA student or graduate is insisting so much on how prestigious is his school, then this is huge negative point on his personality and quality.

  • Vladmir

    Ramni – The Singapore factor is amazing and v.unique ! And despite certain nationalities dominating, it is an integrated and global class. Personally I wish the program was a little longer – like 14-15 months – just to give the students some extra breathing space for both recruitment activites and the academics. I still reckon with this length it would do well. I also agree its a great school – we obviously disagree how great but I think if it became slightly more selective on candidates profile, it would further enhance its profile.

  • Assaf

    I turned down Harvard for INSEAD. tough decision though realistic. and never regret. it is all about fit..guys. be careful and do not be emotional.

  • Ramni


    if INSEAD is 2Y and only in Fonty, then it loses its competitive advantage..as simple as that..this advantage is what make INSEAD so different and unique and a true GLOBAL business school..and it is more than enough to edge the others including all M7 in US.

  • Vladmir

    Ramni – Thanks for pointing out the error. Wharton indeed part of the Ivy league. I mention it in point 3) so its an honest mistake rather than bad judgement.
    As you are big on Insead and know the program well, can I ask you a question? Would Insead have the same number of applicants and profile if the program was 2 yrs and only in Fonty?
    I thank you in advance for a considerate answer.

  • Ramni


    what about Wharton?! is it that bad so that you couldn’t remember its name?!!
    this tells enough about your judgement man..

  • Bayo Babalola

    Vladimir, while everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion based on their perception of events, I find general statements like ‘ I would love if you could find me an oxbridge MBA at any reputable p.e fund’ frankly misleading. I am a current Oxford MBA student and I couldn’t be happier with the program. Yes there are disadvantages that come with being in a program that is only a couple of decades old but you forget a very important point….Oxford University as an institution is almost 900 years old! In fact, I was at a PE conference in London just last week where Oxford alumni (including non-business school alumni) currently working in PE were very much in attendance.

    I won’t attempt to change your opinion as I suspect you have already made up your mind based on what I suppose is an inside view of every single school you have mentioned in your post. I however encourage anyone considering enrolling at Oxford to send me an e-mail on adebayo.babalola@sbs.ox.ac.uk with any specific questions. I would try to answer them as soon as possible.

  • Vladmir

    I would ignore JN’s comments. Clearly he has a bias. More imp his comments are inaccurate.
    1) “While it’s true that their business schools are relatively young, graduating with just about anything from these schools will get your foot in the door anywhere. The same is true of course for the Ivy League in the US.”
    WRONG. His facts are incorrect. Out of the Ivy League institutions that have an MBA program, Darthmouth, Columbia and Harvard are only really the best. Cornell and Yale are good but still have a long way to go to get in the top tier.

    2) In Europe Tier 1 = LBS and Insead Tier 2 = IESE, IE, BACCONI, HEC Tier3 Oxbrdige.
    The Tier 2 in Europe are extremely local programs with excellent alumni. They are long and established schools and will get you a role in their countries with the top employers. Oxbridge are new and not so selective in terms of their candidate profile. I have friends who have gone from backoffice roles in Investment banking. They are just playing the stats game i.e gmat. In addition, the only appeal these programs have is that they are one yr long so they can attract cost conscious candidates. There is a reason there programs are much cheaper than the more prestigious 1 yr Insead MBA.
    3) “While it’s true that their business schools are relatively young, graduating with just about anything from these schools will get your foot in the door anywhere.”
    WRONG – Pls call up the HR department at all the investment banks and ask howmany Oxbridge MBA’s they take each year. Do the same for the consultancies and then Industry.
    And just for your info, in the P.E space, at some of the best P.E funds only an MBA from Stanford, HBS, Wharton and Kellogg are considered worthwhile. I would love if you could find me an oxbridge MBA at any reputable p.e fund.
    4) Finally your doing the right thing by visiting this website and doing your reseach. I would urge you to consider peoples views but also delve deep into the programs you wish to consider. An MBA is a very very expensive investment. Its imp to go to the right school or you’ll regret it your entire life.
    If you want further info on oxbridge and to spk to a student there, I am happy for you to contact me offline and I shall connect.

  • Polla

    Your heads are so deep inside of the US buttoms that you do not realize that there is life outside of it. All of the countries that have strong and mature economies also have good schools. It is dumb to assure that only in “America” (name that some use out of complete ignorance) can quality engineers and businessmen be formed. People that talk like this only reinforce the idea that people in the United States have very little culture and serious limitations in the international context.

    Si tan sólo fueran capaces de leer en otro idioma podrían comenzar a darse cuenta de la importancia que tiene la apertura, sobre todo de cabeza. Les recomiendo vivir en otro país, aprender otros idiomas y tratar de convertirse en profesionales bi o multi-culturales.

    If you were only capable of reading in a second language you could start to understand the importance that openess has, specially that of your brains. I recommend you to live in another country, learn other languages and try to become multicultural professionals.

    Keep on with your “American Dream”.

  • JN

    If you’re considering a European MBA I feel you should look into those offered by Oxbridge. It’s absolutely silly to think Oxford or Cambridge are only strong undergraduate brands. They are fantastic graduate brands as well. Take, for instance, their Economics postgraduates many of whom are leading scholars or businesspeople. While it’s true that their business schools are relatively young, graduating with just about anything from these schools will get your foot in the door anywhere. The same is true of course for the Ivy League in the US. Also, it’s unfair to say the faculty of Oxbridge business schools are nobodies. I’ve looked at both business schools and the faculty members are amazing. The recruitment too is excellent at these schools.
    Subros: Bottom line is you have to choose what works for you. In Europe, I’d apply only to LBS and Oxbridge for global recognition post-graduation. Rather than take anyone’s word for it, I would if I were you, independently look at the school’s faculty and recruitment. Also, look at the class size and visit the school if you can. If you could apply to the US, then I would recommend that and I would suggest that you focus on the Ivy League b-schools and a few others like Stanford and MIT.

  • Ramni

    INSEAD tops the list of FT global MBA ranking 2012.

  • Subros


    Thanks a lot for your comments

  • Vladmir

    I think the question you need to ask yourself is what do you out of them?
    Branding? Oxbridge are phenomenal undergaduate brands. The business schools are neither tried nor tested. They are tier 2 at best and the candidates nowhere near as strong as Insead and LBS. In-fact IESE, IE and ESADE are more established and have a better reputation.
    Faculty? Noone heard of em. I wouldargue some of the regional business schools have better faculty – stockholm school of economics, copenhagen business school and bacconi.
    Alumni? Not a British thing. More a French thing and Spanish thing but altogether much less than the US and even India.
    One Yr Stamp? Not a bad stamp to get
    Job? Won’t get you anything great. Actually delve into their employment reports and scrutinize and criticize. The decent stuff was all abt firms who sponsored their employees and they could not get into the top one yr programs – Kellogg and Insead.

  • Subros


    I have been considering European MBA. From the previous comments, I can see that you have a good idea about them. Can you please share your views on Cambridge/Oxford MBA’s? I know LBS and INSEAD are the best there in europe (though not comparable to the top American Schools)

    Will greatly appreciate your opinion.


  • Vladmir

    Srini – you could not have said it better. I honestly think poets and quants should ignore the Economist and FT. The authors of these British publications have no appreciation of the concept of business education. It is not a concept in their country. Indeed a country with a 3 yr undergraduate system in which graduates leave when 21 and rarely go into postgraduate cannot appreciate higher education. Heck this is a system that allows for 6 months of holiday break. These are the levels of education in this country. Their best business school – London Business School was not even a proper businesss school until 1990’s or so. It was a freaking msc program!

  • srini

    FT rankings are a joke..please don’t take these rankings seriously. Anyone with a bit of common sense knows that FT’s rankings don’t even pass the smell test. Least credible rankings. My 2 year old daughter can randomly pick names of schools from a bag and still do a better job!