IE Business School says it has fired two staffers and asked for the resignation of another in an effort to regain the trust of its alumni after the school’s international MBA program was excluded from this year’s Financial Times global MBA ranking.
In a letter to alumni and IE’s senior leaders, the school also said for the first time that it could not rule out the possibility of “wrong doing” by IE staffers that resulted in the newspaper’s decision to remove the school from its ranking for the first time ever. And has reassigned the management of the rankings from external relations to Martin Boehm, dean of the business school.
The Financial Times has told Poets&Quants that it removed IE Business School from its 2018 global MBA ranking published on Jan. 29th because of “irregularities” that included surveys completed by users who were not alumni of the Class of 2014, the graduates targeted for the newspaper’s ranking.
‘THE QUALITY OF THE DATA WE RECEIVED FROM IE WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH’
“We take the integrity of our rankings very seriously and this is not the first time a school has been disqualified,” a spokesperson for the FT told P&Q. “In this case, the quality of the data we received was not good enough. We received surveys completed by people who were not who we thought they were. We alerted IE to this issue and we have asked them to urgently tighten their data collection procedures so that they can be included in future rankings.”
Alumni responses are crucial to the FT’s methodology of ranking MBA programs. The surveys account for 59% of the total weight of the ranking and inform eight of the 20 different metrics the Financial Times uses to crank out its ranking. A pair of numbers–current alumni salaries and the increase in salary from pre-MBA days–account for 40% of the entire ranking, the most heavily weighted portion of the list.
While the FT notes that it has excluded schools in the past, it has never removed an MBA program ranked as highly as IE which placed eighth best in the world on its 2017 list. This is the first time since the newspaper’s rankings were launched in 1999 that IE has been excluded. When the FT first started ranking full-time MBA programs, IE was ranked 24th. The school’s highest FT rank of sixth place occured in 2009 and 2010.
SHARES CONCERNS OVER THE POTENTIAL NEGATIVE IMPLICATIONS TO IE’S REPUTATION
The loss of its FT ranking has created a storm of concern among alumni on social media channels, including the school’s Whatsapp groups.
In an email written by IE University Executive President Santiago Iñiguez de Onzoño and the former dean of IE Business School, the school acknowledged a rise of worry among alumni over the FT’s exclusion. “Moreover, I fully share your concerns regarding the potential negative implications this might have on our reputation,” wrote Iñiguez. He outlined a series of steps the school was taking to “reassign responsibilities and establish the proper mechanisms to prevent this from ever happening again.
“First, we have dismissed the two members who were responsible for managing and uploading the data,” said Iñiguez, not naming the individuals who were fired.
“Second, we have asked the person responsible of the unit that deals with rankings and institutional information for the University to present his resignation.
“Third, we have decided to change the front-to-end management of rankings under the new aegis of the Dean of the Business School.
“Fourth, we have also designed new processes that will guarantee the accuracy and integrity of the collected information.
“Fifth, we will launch new initiatives to strengthen our alumni engagement.”
SCHOOL SAYS DEAN AND VICE DEAN OF PROGRAM HAVE ITS ‘FULL SUPPORT & CONFIDENCE’
Iñiguez expressed his “full support and confidence” in IE Business School Dean Martin Boehm and Vice Dean of the International MBA program Erik Schlie, who he said would “guarantee that these measures will be implemented properly going forward.”
Iñiguez told alumni that the school initiallly learned about what he called “certain anolmalies” when IE was contacted by alumni who apparently had not received the FT’s surveys. “In good faith, we encouraged them to contact the Financial Times directly and seek clarification,” wrote Iñiguez. “In the meantime, we discovered that some of the alumni email addresses were incorrect. This may have been due to a lack of updating as well as errors in the process of uploading. Notwithstanding those incorrect contact data, we had hoped that the number of responding students would be sufficiently representative.
“In addition, the Financial Times informed us about a few submissions that were completed by people who were not who the Financial Times thought they were. We have not been able to identify these particular cases from our end but we will continue to investigate further. As a result, the Financial Times became concerned about the accuracy of our alumni contact data and excluded us from the ranking.”
‘IE IS A SOLID BUSINESS SCHOOL WITH AN OUTSTANDING TRAJECTORY’
Iñiguez expressed confidence that the steps IE is taking will allow the school to participate in future rankings by the Financial Times. “Over the next weeks I will personally dedicate myself to clarify this unfortunate episode and avoid any misunderstandings, both past and future,” he wrote. “IE is a solid Business School with an outstanding trajectory and will always be fueled by the energy of its Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff. Any episode like this yields lessons to be learned and will help us to emerge even stronger as a united IE community. I hope I can count on your continuous support to jointly lift our institution onto even higher grounds and help build your futures.”