American Business Schools rule the roost in this year’s ranking of full-time MBA programmes published by the “Economist”. The clear winners have been North American schools. It is not just that they occupy seven of the top ten places, including the first four slots. It can be found further down the table, where middle-ranking American schools have leapfrogged their European counterparts.
Usually, schools move up or down just a few places year on year, but this 9th edition of the ranking is different. The reason for this is that a school's ability to open career opportunities for its graduates and the salaries those graduates can expect to be paid have a combined weight of 55 per cent in the ranking. The career data in this year's ranking are from 2009, when the situation was bleak for almost everyone.
If any school can claim to have had a successful recession then it is Chicago's Booth School of Business, which tops the ranking. Chicago's careers service was listed the best of any school. It placed graduates into all 11 different industry sectors the study counts, and its students rated it highly.
At the same time European MBAs are still likely to out-earn the rest when they graduate-they tend to be older with more work experience-but the gap has narrowed. LondonBusinessSchool, which has traditionally placed its graduates in high-paying finance roles, is a good example. As banking jobs disappeared, the average basic salary of new MBAs from LBS has dropped from $117,000 to $100,600 since the 2009 ranking. Likewise the number of students in employment within three months of graduation fell from 91 per cent to 81 per cent.
Another area where many schools have struggled is in maintaining the quality of the admissions. Although in a recession the pool of applicants often increases at first, as people look to shelter from the economic storm in MBA programmes, if a downturn becomes prolonged then students begin to question the wisdom of handing over huge tuition fees for uncertain returns.