The Biggest B-School Scandals Of 2019

Royal patrons of the Berlin School of Business and Innovation cutting a ceremonial ribbon to open the school in November 2018. Second from right is the chief patron of the school, His Royal Highness Prince Paul Philippe Hohenzollern of Romania. BSBI photo


Launched in 2018, the Berlin School of Business and Innovation (BSBI) is one of the world’s newest business schools. It also could be a scam, according to some unhappy students. At first glance, the school seems normal. It has a legit website that doesn’t sound any alarms. And students have been enrolling. But according to some exclusive interviews with Poets&Quants from last summer, some students say the school is anything but normal.

Students at the school, which offers a bachelors degree, MBA, as well as some other specific master’s programs, were disappointed in the quality of both the instruction (“no better than what you can find online”) and career services (“practically nonexistent”) at the Berlin school, as well as its facilities, which at one point amounted to a shared floor in a single building and rooms without tables or chairs. They say attending BSBI has been a waste of time — “basically,” one student says, “the same as flushing your money down the toilet.”

“For many students, money is an obstacle, and a lot of students chose this option because it is affordable,” says the student, who like the others asked for anonymity because he feared reprisal from the school. “To that I would say, don’t come here. This school is not what we were expecting when we came here, nor is it what we think we deserved and what we paid for.”

In the very in-depth reporting, we take a look at the legitimacy of the students’ allegations.


It’s not a year in academia without a good old-fashioned widespread cheating allegation. This time it happened at New Orleans-based Tulane University Freeman School of Business. That’s according to a student in Tulane University’s International Master of Finance program, a curriculum designed for students from partner schools in Latin America to pursue a “double degree,” or doble titulación. Fergus Hodgson, a native of New Zealand who entered the program in 2017 alleged the program included take-home exams, instructors looking the other way, and coursework that could be described as anything but rigorous. The misconduct and mismanagement were flagrant and widely tolerated and no one acted to change it, Hodgson claimed.

Hodgson entered the Tulane-UFM doble titulación as a way to get a degree from a “credible” U.S. school for about half the price while studying in a country he knew well, where he could improve his self-taught Spanish and be among friends. However, he quickly found that the program’s quality of instruction was “a joke,” support was “fleeting,” and plagiarism and cheating were “near-universal.” Instructors would hand out exams and then leave the room, allowing students to work together on the answers. When he brought all of this to the attention of school officials in Guatemala and the United States, Hodgson says he was brushed off, ostracized — and in one case offered “help” to study far away, in Spain.

“Everyone cheats. Tulane is giving out its business degrees to Central Americans who make the process a laughingstock,” Hodgson says. “Most are from Guatemala and Panamá, and they do not take the GMAT at all. The quality, everything, is just garbage as far as I’m concerned, the whole process. The only thing you get out of it is that degree from Tulane.”

Asked by P&Q to respond, a Tulane official said the school is aware of Hodgson’s accusations and that Tulane has taken “appropriate action” to address them, but declined to provide details.


At their best, MBA rankings can be an informative jumping point for those interested in researching the potential of the degree. At their worst, MBA rankings can be fraudulent and misguided SEO campaigns to misinform innocent information seekers. And the worst of it is when student-hungry business schools perpetuate and lead the fraudulence. That’s exactly what an anonymous architect from this MBA rankings netherworld fleshed out to us last spring.

To not ruin his career, the architect reached out to us under the alias of Jim Gomez. Gomez says the fraudulent rankings companies work with student-hungry B-schools, getting paid each time someone goes to a ranking and clicks a link taking them to a business school’s website. As a business, it’s called “lead generation.”

Gomez spent about six years working for one of these companies on a rankings website, as a strategist in “search engine optimization” (SEO). The leads generated by the site brought in as much as $5 million a year, Gomez says, thanks, in large part, to the website’s prominence in Google search results. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

That’s where his innovation came in, he says. He discovered that among the many factors Google’s automated software uses to determine search-results placement, much weight is given to sites that get traffic from their links on schools’ websites, which end in “.edu,” he says.

“When determining search-results positions, Google places a huge value on high-quality inbound links from authoritative websites, especially government and school websites, thus ‘.edu’ and ‘.gov’ are the most valuable links for any websites, and ‘.edu’ links are even more powerful in the education niche,” Gomez says.

A rankings page on a website, if it’s getting hit via links from ‘.edu’ sites, can rise from “way out in search results, perhaps page seven or lower, to the No. 1 position on the first page of search results,” he says. 

“I created this strategy of gathering ‘.edu’ links from colleges several years ago and our website quickly had huge success in Google search results, typically the first position on the first page. Most people, even many SEO people, do not know the enormous power ‘.edu’ links have with Google.”

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