For IE Business School in Spain, there’s good and bad news in the new 2019 global MBA ranking by The Financial Times.
The good news: The maverick school made a solid return to the FT ranking after being tossed off the list last year.
The bad news: IE came back at a rank of 31st, 23 places below its lofty eighth-place finish in 2017 when it was also third best in Europe and above such prestige players as MIT Sloan, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. IE had been in every single FT ranking from the very start in 1999. It is the school’s weakest showing since 2002 when IE finished 35th (see table below). Never before had a top ten school been taken out of the MBA ranking by the Financial Times.
IE’S OUSTER LAST YEAR CREATED AN UPROAR
The school’s disappearance from last year’s ranking created an uproar among students and alumni. IE alums from the Class of 2011 wrote a letter to the university about the challenge. “The negative press and potential indication of ethical violations from the Financial Times leads to significant credibility issues and undermines what we as former students know to be the ethos of the school,” wrote the alumni. “International demand for IE Business School programs might drop, and admissions will be adversely affected…INSEAD and IESE, both of whom already have extensive global brands will become unchallenged regarding ranked programs on the continent, further reducing IE’s market share.”
The Financial Times, moreover, did not even acknowledge the absence of IE, even though it had been ranked so highly in the past. It was only after questions were posed to the FT editors by Poets&Quants that the newspaper responded.
The Financial Times took the extraordinary step of removing IE when a series of mandatory checks it performs turned up a peculiar problem: To its surprise, the newspaper noticed that surveys meant to be completed by alumni from IE’s Class of 2014 were coming in from other people.
‘WE ARE PROUD TO BE PLACED AMONG THE TEN BEST MBA PROGRAMS IN EUROPE’
Helen Barrett, the FT’s editor for work & careers, told Poets&Quants that the issue with IE’s submissions became apparent when the newspaper’s data editors ran a routine series of about 20 different checks on the data that comes in from both schools and alumni it surveys. “Through our checks, we found a handful of surveys completed by people other than the alumni named on the form, and at five we stopped counting,” explains Barrett. “We alerted IE, who were unable to explain what had happened. Then we urged them to tighten their procedures. That’s really where our involvement ended. There was a separate mix up with alumni email addresses, as IE said originally, but that was really of secondary concern.”
IE was apparently able to get back on track this year. “We are proud to be placed by the Financial Times among the 10 best MBA programs in Europe,” said Martin Boehm, dean of IE, in a statement to Poets&Quants. “This reflects the top quality of our graduates, their entrepreneurial drive and their profound impact in the business world. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their commitment to IE Business School and their continuous support. Having said this, a ranking is also an opportunity to identify routes for further development. The feedback from our alumni reinforces our commitment to develop this world-class MBA program in line with the mission and values of IE Business School.”