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Ivey Dean Expects School’s No. 1 Ranking To Increase Applicants

Ivey Business School at Western University, Ontario, Canada

Ivey Business School at Western University, Ontario, Canada

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business wasn’t the only surprise winner at the top of the new 2014 Bloomberg Businessweek MBA ranking. The other big surprise was the No. 1 school on Businessweek’s separate ranking of the best international MBA programs.

London Business School? Nah. INSEAD. No, again.

Would you believe Western University’s Ivey Business School in Canada?

Ivey, one of six Canadian schools on the list of 27 international schools, rose six places to take the top spot for the very first time. Ivey displaced London Business School which was first in 2012, the last time Businessweek did it’s ranking.

IVEY HAD WON SECOND PLACE EIGHT YEARS AGO IN 2006

Ivey had come close before, placing second in 2006, just behind Canadian rival Queen’s School of Business, which had been Businessweek’s No. 1 international MBA program three times from 2004 to 2008. Queen’s fell six positions this year to end up in tenth place, just ahead of the University of Toronto’s No. 11 Rotman School of Management. Ivey’s emergence is still something of a surprise when most other rankings tend to favor London Business School, INSEAD, HEC Paris, or one of the two most prominent Spanish players, IESE Business School and IE Business School.

Ivey Dean Robert Kennedy, reached by Poets&Quants for his reaction, had an unusual explanation for the school’s success in the Businessweek ranking which underwent a major overhaul of its methodology this year. “Businessweek had largely been using the same methodology for a long time and there’s a group of schools who learned how to game that,” says Kennedy. He added that some schools were giving Businessweek only the names of alumni for the survey of employer perception. “They made it harder on the recruiter side to game it. I applaud them for making them harder to game.”

In the 2014 BusinessWeek rankings, IE Business School in Spain was second behind Ivey, while previously unranked European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, Germany, came in third, with INSEAD fifth. Canada matched the United Kingdom for having the most MBA programs on the list, six each, while Spain came in next with three, and France and Germany, had two business schools among the 27 ranked by the magazine. This was the largest international ranking ever published by Businessweek which previously assigned numerical ranks to just 19 schools.

IVEY WASN’T THE ONLY SURPRISE ON THE INTERNATIONAL RANKING

Besides Ivey, there were other surprises among the international schools. Despite the expansion of the list, only four of the schools on the 2012 ranking showed improved position, with Ivey moving up the most. Many more MBA programs on the 2012 list were penalized in favor of the newcomers. ESADE Business School in Spain tumbled the most, falling 13 spots to a ranking of  19th. York University’s Schulich School also took a beating, plunging 11 positions to a rank of 24th, putting it dead last among the half dozen Canadian schools. Imperial College in London fell nine places, and Erasmus’ Rotterdam School of Management dropped eight spots.

Some of the changes, no doubt, are the result of the new methodology. BusinessWeek says for this year it changed the measurements in recruiter surveys, asking about qualities sought in MBAs and which schools graduate students with those qualities – rather than just having recruiters rank up to 20 schools – to provide results “less biased by the effects of a school’s reputation.” BusinessWeek also limited recruiter input to 2014 data, scrapping the earlier practice of incorporating scores from previous years.

For Ivey, where the average GMAT score is 655, admissions selectivity runs at 23%, and 92% of graduates have job offers within three months, the No. 1 ranking validated the school’s strategy and educational approach, Kennedy says. “For many, many years Ivey has focused on the student experience and making sure recruiters are connected with our students,” Kennedy says, noting that Ivey also took first place in the employer survey component of the rankings. Newcomer ESMT was second, while Toronto’s Rotman was third on the all-important employer portion of the ranking.

“We’re trying to prepare students to work for top employers, and the employers are endorsing what we’ve done,” Kennedy says.

In pursuing students seeking the case-based education Ivey offers, the school competes against other schools such as Harvard Business School and the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Kennedy says.

(See following page for ranking of the 29 international programs)