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"We are small, but great"

“We are small, but great” - The Leipzig Graduate School of Management wants to grow, but with consideration for quality and a sense of proportion. Bachelor degrees will not be offered but a family-friendly part-time MBA, more personable service and new scholarships. Rector Andreas Pinkwart spoke about his plans to MBA-Channel.com.

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Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart

Professor Pinkwart, for five years you were Innovation Minister in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, a very important technological centre. Do you think that the economy of a country known for its research and technology should invest more in the training of its employees?

Yes absolutely, in order to remain competitive companies must do more. However, I have noticed a positive trend. HR managers are constantly confronted with the issue of recruiting and retaining good employees. More and more people show interest in investing time and money in personal development and therefore in their own careers. Increasingly employees choose their employers according to their willingness to offer attractive professional training and support. Consequently, this increases the pressure on the training provider.

Increasing willingness to pay - increasing demands: Is it not difficult for a relatively small German business school to compete against the educational offers of renowned German universities?

No, the private universities play an important complementary role here in Germany. Private providers are the pioneers of MBA education in Germany and have to help to enforce the highest international quality standards. HHL, as Germany's first and oldest business school, has been very successful at this up till now. In April 2004, our MBA program was the first German programme to be accredited by the prestigious AACSB International accreditation and was reaccredited in 2009.

You have been recently described the German MBA market as "completely under-developed" - where do you see future opportunities for the HHL?

In the world of work we are currently experiencing an informational revolution. The demand for managers with key skills such as project and network management, work in interdisciplinary teams and cross-sector networks is increasing enormously. A practical, broad-based general management course of study creates an optimal foundation for that. In such a program one can learn together with experienced professional students from various countries and industries. The MBA is also a very different education than the traditional economics programs at state colleges and will only increase in importance.

How international is then HHL and what is your opinion of MBA degrees in Germany?

For a Full-Time MBA approximately 70 percent of our students come from abroad. In particular, India is strongly represented in recent years, but we also have a noticeable number of US participants. The US students can even apply for financial aid (Federal Student Aid). I think that ever since the global financial crisis German Management Virtues are more in demand. Unlike the Anglo-Saxon world of MBA, Germany is more characterized by the regulatory framework of a social market economy and basic values such as trust, sustainability and corporate responsibility. For example since 2004 HHL has firmly established a business ethics Chair and research field, while many international business schools are only now discovering these topics.

International and interdisciplinary - to what extent can these quality criteria be implemented in the part-time programs?

You're right, that is certainly more difficult if the participants do not spend as much time together. Yet I see a growing need for part-time offers. Since our founding 113 years ago we have specialized in graduate programs. Due to the Bologna reform, in the future there will be more candidates who enter the workforce after a Bachelor degree and later will continue to qualify academically. We need to respond to that trend. As the first university in Germany, we offer not only an MBA but also an Economics Master's program - part-time at the university level. And the part-time MBA, has just been restructured. Instead of having courses only on Friday and Saturday there will be also courses available on Sundays. Additionally, the full attendance is to be increased from two weeks to three. In this way, the number of weekends is to be reduced from 21 to eight per year, while the participants have the chance to get to know each other better, improve their networking during the prolonged attendance phases. We will also expand our radius for new target groups who live farther away or who want to use their family leave for the vocational development.

Can the students afford an expensive MBA program?

As I said, the willingness to invest in the personal training is on the increase. If thanks to our part-time MBA you can get back to work after having children without a career break, that's worth a lot, isn’t it? We also provide low-interest loans that you repay only if you earn more money. Around ten percent of our students are also financed through scholarships. Here, we intend to create more incentives. I think for example of scholarships for talented and powerful people from immigrant backgrounds. I would like to even further improve their chances of promotion.

You currently have around 370 students - how many shall there be in the future?

Concrete figures will not be published until the spring of 2012, when we introduce our development concept running up to 2020. We want to grow, but I can tell you today that we will not be a mass university. Bachelor's degree programs will not be offered. We want to remain a small and intimate business school which grows in quality and time. The individual attention for our students is one of our greatest strengths and shall remain so in the future.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart
Born in 1960, is Rector and Professor of Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Leipzig (HHL). The economist and former FDP top politician was from 2005 to 2010 Minister for Innovation, Science, Research and Technology and Deputy Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia. In April 2011 he took up his present position in Leipzig.

HHL in numbers
Students: approx 300 (MBA, Master's, doctorate)
Full-time MBA: about 70 percent international students, about 30 percent of women
Part-time MBA: about 34 percent international students, about 20 percent of women
Duration: Full-time MBA 15 to 18 months, Part time MBA 24 months
Cost: Full-time MBA 27,000 Euros (scholarships available), Part-time MBA 30,000 Euros
Accreditation: AACSB

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