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Do B-School Rankings Present An Accurate Picture?

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Do B-School Rankings Present An Accurate Picture?

Postby Anula » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:23 pm

This is discussion about news article "Do B-School Rankings Present An Accurate Picture?"

The annual Business School Rankings by the Financial Times, the Economist, Business Week and others are eagerly awaited by MBA aspirants while taking a call on choosing the right type of program and institution as also by current students and alumni. How far does the rankings present an accurate picture?

Conrad Chua, Head of MBA Admissions at University of Cambridge Judgee Business School, seeks to provide some of the answers.

He says that the school has done “spectacularly well” to rank 5th in the FT Global MBA Rankings 2017, up from placed 10th in the previous year.

“A lot of that improvement came through the weighted salary, salary increase, value for money components and also our faculty research rank,” he notes while writing in the Cambridge MBA admissions blog.

While it is a reflection of the improvements seen in the Cambridge MBA over the last few years, the school would not “get carried away with these results, because we know that rankings are naturally volatile, as you can see from the number of schools that have double digit changes in their rankings every year,” he says.

While the school has a strategy that in many cases overlaps what the FT and other rankings measure, it would not be driven solely by the rankings, “as that would tear the soul out of any school,” Chua explains.

In this context, he refers to a phase when the Cambridge MBA was in the lower half of the 20s in the FT and he had to write explanatory notes to stakeholders on the reasons for not doing so well. One of the difficulties he faced in giving an explanation to stakeholders was that the FT rankings “do not measure what you think it measures.”

“Firstly, it is very weighted to what the alums from 3, 4 and 5 years ago are doing, now, last year and the year before respectively. Many of the measures from the alumni survey are actually a blended average comprising 50% from the alums who graduated 3 years ago, and then 25% each from the alums who participated in the survey last year and the year before last.

“Secondly, the FT uses quite a lot of adjustments when arriving at the weighted salary. It uses PPP (purchasing power parity) to convert currencies, rightly takes out salaries of alums who are working in the not for profit sector or taking further education, then removes the top and bottom salaries, before making some sectoral adjustments (which probably hurts the schools who have a high percentage of alums in high-paying sectors).

“So the final figure that you see probably does not bear much resemblance to what an “average” alum in that year is earning now,” he adds.

While a good ranking relieves a lot of pressure on the school when explaining to stakeholders, the schools on their part, have to do even more to keep the stakeholders focused on what matters.

“On the MBA itself, we have just changed several components of the program in response to feedback from employers, alums and top leaders, and the school will have a new extension next year that will give us a lot of well-needed space.

“And while our alums have expressed a high level of satisfaction through the FT survey, we are also looking at other rankings (we only participate in the Economist and Business Week rankings) that provide us with more qualitative feedback from alums and students, and seeing how that squares with what we have learnt from our own class surveys,” Chua says.

The process helps the school to get reliable data on which it could make better-informed decisions about the changes needed. “Along these lines, I do want to increase the percentage of graduating alums for whom we have employment information about,” he says.

“The FT actually reports this number in brackets under the criterion percentage employed after three months. For last year, we only had information from 88% of the class and I see that all the other schools in the top 20 have a higher reporting figure. It is something we will have to improve on,” Chua notes.

He then goes on to repeat a message that he has been conveying every year. “It is impossible to reduce an MBA experience in whatever school to just a number.

“Don’t ignore the rankings but make your own judgement of a school from speaking to its staff, its alums and students and make your own decision whether that is the right school for you,” Chua says.

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