Winners & Losers On The 2012 Financial Times MBA Ranking

What goes up must come down?

Today, with the Jan. 30th publication of the 2012 Financial Times global MBA ranking, Durham Business School in the United Kingdom is getting fresh confirmation of this cliche. The school plunged 39 places in a single year to a rank of 94th from 55th in 2011.

But at least it didn’t completely disappear. Arizona State University’s Carey School plummeted by at least 37 places. It was ranked 64th last year and failed to make the Financial Times’ 100 list this year. What causes such dramatic downward swings? It’s hard to know because the Financial Times offers little if any commentary on schools that have experienced significant falls in their numerical ranks.

This year, some 13 schools disappeared from the newspaper’s top 100 list of full-time MBA programs. Some of the others include Pepperdine University, the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business, Leeds University, the University of Florida’s Hough School of Business, IAE in Argentina, the Kaist College of Business, and EM Lyon in France.

And a good number of schools had to fall in double digits to drop off the list. The University of Strathclyde’s business school fell at least 27 spots. It was ranked 74th last year. UC-Davis, which was 83rd last year, plummeted at least 18 places to lose its standing on the top 100.

Some of these schools disappeared because the Financial Times was unable to get the bare minimum of acceptable responses–20–to its survey of their alums. That was the case for Arizona State University, which graduated only 90 full-time MBAs last year, so it’s no longer on the FT list. All the newspaper would have required is a response rate of not much more than 22%.

Who are the biggest winners and losers this time around? The biggest gainers, of course, are those schools which weren’t even on The Financial Times’ top 100 list last year but made it this year. Some 13 new schools, including several from Asia, have the pleasure of being ranked by the FT, replacing the 13 that fell off the list.

Nearly one in four of the schools on the top 100 had increases or decreases in rankings in the double-digit. That’s a lot of change, suggesting that the statistical significance of a given numerical rank of a school on the Financial Times’ list is often so small as to be meaningless. Unlike some other ranking organizations, the FT does not publish the underlying index for its numerical rank so it’s impossible to tell how meaningful any given rank on the list is.

In any case, here are the biggest winners and losers on the new 2012 ranking: