The Hult International Business School is no stranger to catching bad online public relations flack. And this year, the school had another doozy when a former employee posted a very telling — and damning — post on Reddit. Under the heading of “Ex-Employee of Hult International Business School,” the anonymous poster essentially gave readers a play-by-play on how the school finds and closes would-be students for its MBA, Executive MBA, and other master’s programs in business.
At first, the process seems common and innocent enough. Not unlike other schools, Hult tracks people that complete the TOEFL and GMAT. Then, the leads are split into markets by regions of the world, including Europe, Asia, the U.S. and South America and then the cold calls begin and are made by a staff of people who spend their entire days on the phone.
“Closing isn’t done in one call,” the poster added. “First we call to make sure the number is correct, the individual could fit studies in their schedule, and most importantly tht they have some way to bring forth the ca$h needed ($20K-$40K depending on the program). Then, after having assessed all these needs (test scores not being a priority of course) a description is made of how amazing the school and its program are, and an excuse to have another call is set up (‘so that you can discuss with your family,’ ‘so that you can do the math/speak with the bank/etc,’ or the best one ‘at a time where we’ll have more time to speak.’).”
But then it went further when the poster, who describes himself as a Hult staffer who helped recruit students to the school’s programs, then claimed that Hult doctors its employment report for graduates. “Alumni that don’t find a job within three months are given the status of ‘entrepreneurs’ and don’t feature in employment statistics,” he alleged. “Or they are offered a job at Ult or one of its affiliates. This is also done to help the statistics” which claim that 91% of our students find a job within three months.”
The allegations set off furious questions and comments from many other Reddit users and led the school to respond.
“It sounds like a disgruntled former employee has shared some doubts about our stats which is of course unfortunate, but we can’t expect all members of staff to be familiar with the rigorous, standardized process surrounding rankings and accreditation,” said Markus Mandl, Hult’s chief marketing officer. “The fact that we are experiencing continued success in both, our ongoing accreditations process as well as in the premier rankings of business school programs is a testament to the positive impact of our unique approach to global higher education.”
Fake news is one thing, but a fake community and conversations is another. That’s what admissions consultant Daniel Morgan claimed Beat The GMAT has been doing in its online forums. Earlier this year, Morgan claimed that while BTG’s forums are designed to appear as a marketplace of ideas for curious would-be MBA seekers, the exchange of information is being manipulated by fake users that post high volumes of repetitive questions and generic comments, and that don’t interact or respond to questions.
BTG responded to the allegations by saying the site is just trying to keep up with the competition by employing common tactics that actually serve users well by, among other things, regenerating old content. Beat The GMAT claims to be “a social network where MBA applicants, students, admissions officers, GMAT teachers, and MBA consultants openly collaborate and share free advice.” But Morgan, who graduated with an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2012, says the site is using dishonest tactics and even employing paid content generators under the title of “moderators.”
“I do think this stuff happens a lot (around the web),” Morgan, a former derivatives trader for Susquehanna International Group and equity analyst for Albert Bridge Capital, said. “I really feel that it’s something that needs to be brought to light. In my mind creating fake profiles to populate a forum with a view of profiting from it is an unethical practice.”