International MBAs’ U.S. Job Struggle

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Germany Embraces the MBA


These are heady days for Germany. The economy is humming. And a World Cup title has lifted the nation’s spirits. In fact, you’d expect Germany – with its infrastructure and technical wizardry – to be a destination for MBAs.

But you’d be wrong.

In fact, only two German business schools – The European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) and the Mannheim Business School – are listed in The Financial Times’ latest Global MBA ranking. In fact, the majority of Germans earn their MBAs outside the fatherland. As Udo Steffens, president of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, tells The Financial Times: “Germans take MBAs, but not in Germany. That’s good for the outside world, but not Germany.”

How bad is it? Jörg Rocholl, President of ESMT, admits that “…Just 10 per cent of our students are German,” with most hailing from Russia, India, China, and the United States.

But that’s beginning to change. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), more Germans are now sending their GMAT scores to German business schools than to American ones, with applications rising from 5,837 to 6,487 applications between 2012 and 2013.

To respond to increased demand, Frankfurt University is starting a new MBA program this fall, while ESMT, HHL Leipzig’s Graduate School of Management, and the Mannheim Business School are beefing up their programs. And Spain’s IESE Business School is opening a campus in Munich too.

Why is this? For starters, Germans have seemingly poured more energy into creating a strong product than marketing it. Jolene Monson, a marketing manager at ESMT, notes that “…when students find that in Germany fees are half the price, classes are more diverse and job opportunities more plentiful, they’re pleasantly surprised.”

The nation itself is an attractive proposition for students and countries. According to The Financial Times, they are “attracted by the Germans’ attitudes as much as by their knowhow, eager to learn more of the ethos that values job creation, client satisfaction and product excellence as highly as profit.” “Germany is seen as the growth engine for Europe,” says Rocholl, “and we’re enjoying that tailwind with increases in the number of students applying to our degree and executive education programmes.”

And German students have started picking up the vibe, particularly as more German students graduate from business school and share their experiences with peers. Along with an uptick in enrollment at full-time MBA programs, Jens Wüstemann, President of the Mannheim Business School, has also witnessed increased demand for executive MBAs. “German employers are beginning to see an MBA as a way of keeping their best executives and including business schools as an option in their talent programmes.”

How popular have MBAs grown in Germany? Like the United States, many schools are getting into the act, regardless of quality. As a result, Wüstemann warns of the growth of schools that are tacking an MBA label onto applied sciences disciplines. “There is a second tier of MBA programmes in traditional universities that might be a good choice for students who want to work in that region. But then there’s a third tier, just using MBAs as a label to sell masters programmes.”

But that’s to be expected in any growing market. In the meantime, German MBA programs are experiencing a renaissance, much the same as European programs did a decade or two ago. “The market is developing nicely,” Wüstemann gushes. “The only worry is whether it’s high quality or not.”

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Source: The Financial Times

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