For the second year in a row, Hult International Business School failed to make The Financial Times‘s ranking of the top 100 MBA programs in the world. For Hult, the second consecutive disappearance from the updated 2016 FT list is something of a public relations disaster.
The school, which appeared on the list for six years before falling off last year, had made much promotional hay of its FT rankings in the past, issuing news releases trumpeting its inclusion and prominently playing up the prestige of its FT rank on its website. Hult’s first big rankings break occurred in 2009 when it cracked the highly influential Financial Times’ global MBA list, coming in 97th out of 100 schools. Hult’s best showing in the FT survey occurred in 2013 when it finished 57th in the world.
When Hult disappeared from the list in 2015, Hult President Stephen Hodges emailed a statement to students and alumni, blaming the school’s fall off the list on a single metric that accounts for only 3% of the ranking’s methodology. Hodges attributed the bad news to underperformance in “international course experience” which the newspaper measures by the percentage of the most recent graduating MBA class to have completed exchanges, research projects, study tours and company internships in countries other than where the school is based.
This time around, Hult says it failed to make the list due to its operational merger completed last year with Britain’s Ashridge Business School. “The FT has informed us that while the combined institution is eligible to participate in the Executive Education rankings (Ashridge currently #21 in the world) our degree programs (e.g. MBA) are ineligible until either EQUIS or AACSB confirm they are accrediting the entire newly combined school,” according to Jonathan Metrick, vice president of marketing for Hult. “Consequently, we are in the process of seeking accreditation approval from both EQUIS & AACSB. Once this is secured, we plan to participate again in the FT degree program rankings.”
HULT’S LAST FT GLOBAL MBA RANKING IS NOW TWO YEARS AGO WHEN IT PLACED 61ST
The Financial Times had ranked Hult 61st in 2014. If Hodges was right in his assessment, it would have meant that a change in a relatively inconsequential metric–one of 20 used by the Financial Times to rank schools–would have made the school fall by at least 40 places to lose its FT standing.
At the time, Hodges called the “very disappointing. Please believe me when I say that no one is more upset about this than I am,” he said. “Given that Hult has campuses around the world and many students take advantage of our global rotation option, we obviously feel that their new methodology undervalues the true international experience that Hult offers. Whilst there is nothing we can do to affect this year’s ranking, the FT has indicated a willingness to discuss their definitions for next year.”
It’s unclear whether there was a discussion with the editors in charge of the rankings. Even if there was, it certainly didn’t make a difference in getting Hult back on the FT list.
HULT, UNACCREDITED BY THE AASCB AND EQUIS, HOPES TO FINALLY GAIN ACCREDITATION
Hult has facilities in seven different places: Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai, New York, and now the Ashridge Estate which was added as a result of its merger. Ashridge largely specialized in executive education programming, though it had MBA and Executive MBA programs, both of which will give way to Hult programs.
With the acquisition of Ashridge, which has been accredited by both the AACSB and Equis, Hult is also finally hoping to get its programs accredited by the two major accreditors of business schools. Hult has accreditation from several less prestigious organizations, including the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, which does not focus on business education.
Though Hult has lost its Financial Times ranking, the school’s one-year MBA program was ranked 62nd by Bloomberg Businessweek last year and 65th by The Economist.