On the bright side, the depreciating euro has made it more attractive for students to come to Spain. All things equal, U.S. students are now a quarter to a third less than a few years ago, based on the falling euro-dollar exchange. And the new visa restrictions in the U.K. for non-Europeans make French or Spanish schools also more attractive, relatively speaking.
Well, I must say that these considerations have not played a role yet. We have not seen more applications. My impression has been that this new regulation in the U.K. has affected more the specialized Masters programs and not so much the MBA programs. And as for the euro-dollar exchange: we don’t influence the currency exchange rate. Right after the introduction of the euro, the single currency dropped to an all-time low versus the dollar. And who knows where it is next? That’s out of reach, and thus we won’t adapt our strategies based on those considerations. The same is true for the Brazilian real, in which we charge our Sao Paolo EMBA students. It’s out of our control, and thus it’s of no concern to us.
Switching gears a bit from the brick and mortar to online expansion. Could you tell us about IESE’s use of technology in the classroom?
We use different technologies in different settings. Our Global Executive MBA for example, is a hybrid program, with a large part of the content submitted online as it fits with the lifestyle of the students. On the other end of the spectrum, we have more residential programs, like the full-time MBA, where the point to learn is to face to face in time. And then there is Coursera, on which we also offer two courses. We see there is a place for all technologies. Sometimes it can appear that everything should be online, but that’s not the case.
How is the online learning evolving? And where will we be in five years?
You know as an academic I like to ask questions. And in this field, I have a lot of them. But I don’t have a lot of answers. What I do know is that we’re open to new learning methods, and that different methods have different learning outcomes. If they make sense, we should be open to online learning, and maybe in the future we will have full online programs. But I also know that we have over 50 years of experience in traditional teaching. That gives us a competitive advantage, and we should use that advantage.
In five years, we would have clearly more courses in technology. My prediction would be you would see more online learning in executive education. But then again, I teach forecasting so I know predictions are wrong most of the time. As for the full-time MBA, full time is full time, so you want to offer face-to-face interactions. We will use a lot of technology to offer content that doesn’t need face-to-face interaction, like accounting. But the base will most likely still be face-to-face.
Finally, could you tell us your thoughts on the IESE MBA rankings. The FT ranking that came out late last month put you in seventh place worldwide for the third year straight. A reason to celebrate?
Of course, we are happy to be recognized as a top business school. But I think that ultimately, the consumers of these rankings, the prospective students, they are not served with them. I’d argue that the business school community would be better off with a “Michelin” type of ranking. What I mean by that is that it would be better to give schools a ranking of 1, 2, 3 stars, rather than a rank between 1 and 100.
Not everyone likes sushi, or Italian food. So what is a great restaurant for one will not be as great for another person. The same is true in business schools. If you order them according to certain quality marks that are checked or not, you get a fairer overview of what’s on the market. People can then still choose among all the three-star business schools and determine which one is most fitted to their interests.
Come to think about it, I might even make a business out of this idea. I already wrote a blog about it. Maybe the next step should be to make this new ranking a reality (laughs).
DON’T MISS: AN INTERVIEW WITH IESE DEAN JORDI CANALS