The perks of an MBA in Europe

Russ Thorne finds continental courses are quicker and cheaper

Traditionally the US has been the spiritual home of the MBA, attracting the lion's share of applications from overseas and ruling the roost at the top of international league tables. However, recent figures suggest that Europe is an increasingly popular destination that can offer significant benefits to students.

Figures from Gmac's 2012 Application Trends Survey show that 37 per cent of European programmes reported a rise in application volumes for the 2012-2013 incoming class, compared to 22 per cent in 2011. European schools are also making an impact on the influential league tables, holding 25 of the top 100 spots.

The appeal is easily explained, says Jane Delbene, director of marketing for EMEA at Gmac. "European business schools have established such strong global brands in management education over the past few years that students no longer feel it's imperative to leave Europe for a respected business or management degree."

A course on the continent can offer practical, professional and even philosophical benefits to students. Full-time courses are shorter, taking 12 months instead of the two years generally required by US programmes. "This is an appealing format for students," says Delbene. "It allows them to return to the workforce faster." The shorter programmes can also bring financial savings, with fewer years of study to pay for.

Simply being overseas can improve students' prospects according to George Murgatroyd, research manager at the Association of MBAs. "Many MBA students see the benefit of gaining international experience by studying abroad," he says. "It provides fantastic opportunities to learn more about other cultures and countries – something that has real value in the workplace."

Overseas study is becoming more accessible, especially on the continent, he adds. "Given that many MBAs are part-time and taught in blocks, there is no need to move abroad in order to study an MBA. The ease of global travel has made attending a part-time MBA more like going on a series of business trips."

European study has specific advantages too, says Martin de Wit, director of international relations at Nyenrode Business Universiteit. "Europe has a strong educational tradition, and is one of the major trading blocks in the world with strong economies and known multinationals and other organisations."

In addition, the teaching philosophy and international cohort of European schools may help prepare students for the increasingly global marketplace in which they'll operate after graduation, argues Dirk Buyens, academic dean at Vlerick Business School. "The world future MBAs will work in will not respect the boundaries of the businesses of the past, geographical or otherwise," he says. "In continental Europe, there is more true diversity – both from a teaching perspective and in the diversity of students in the classroom."

The variety of courses and approaches offered by European schools means that students may be able to find exactly the course and institution to suit their needs. Bordeaux Management School runs an Amba-accredited wine and spirits MBA, for example, while at Emlyon the focus is on cultivating entrepreneurship, according to associate professor Rickie Moore. "Though our programme is a generalist one, students are able to pursue concentrations that allow them to develop their own specialisations."

It all adds up to an appealing package for employers, with graduates benefitting from the international experience a European MBA gives their CV. According to Gmac's Corporate Recruiters Survey, 48 per cent of employers like candidates who can speak multiple languages. "Studying abroad affords the chance to learn or improve an extra language, which opens up a range of new employment opportunities," says Professor Simon Evenett, director of the MBA Programme at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland.

Current St Gallen MBA student Lili Zhao, originally from the UK, certainly hopes to reap the potential benefits of a European education. "I hope I'll enrich not only my professional qualifications, but also that I'll be a more interesting and diverse individual on a personal level," she says.

So while US schools certainly have their attractions, their European counterparts have much to offer in terms of increasing students' technical knowledge and cultural awareness, as well as giving them a unique international perspective. Zhao's advice for anyone eyeing an MBA on the continent is clear. "Don't over-analyse the pros and cons of studying in Europe," she says. "Just go for it and enjoy the experience."

Case study: 'Use the MBA's networking potential'

Harvey Wells is a graduate of Nyenrode Business Universiteit and works as a consultant.

"I thought that an MBA in the Netherlands would give me a chance to build my networks and understanding of the business environment. Nyenrode provided me with the hoped-for friendly introduction to the Netherlands, and studying overseas has also provided me with an enhanced perspective on my own native country and culture.

Luckily the Netherlands is culturally and geographically close to the UK, and the Dutch are very open and friendly, so moving here has been easy. Learning Dutch to a reasonable standard has taken some effort (not least because the Dutch are so keen to speak English!) but has proved to be a very worthwhile investment, as it has enabled me to prove that I am serious about working in the Netherlands.

I hoped to get increased perspective, a new network and the benefit of a fresh start from studying my MBA overseas, and that is exactly what has happened. Alongside my consulting work I have been able to go on and build my own business – I've co-founded a beer brewing company.

My advice to students thinking of studying overseas is to look closely at the locations you'd like to work in after your MBA. Base your decision about where to study on that because of the networking potential an MBA programme provides you with."

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before