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CBS drops 16 places in prestigious ranking

The lastest ranking by Financial Times places CBS as 51st out of 95 business schools in Europe. (Illustration: Shutterstock)

Financial Times ranks CBS as the 51st best business school in this year’s top ranking European Business Schools. That’ is a drop of 16 places when compared to last year. Although there is a technical reason for the drop, a member of the Academic Council thinks that CBS could do a lot better. The director of the MBA programs at CBS also finds the drop unfortunate and emphasizes the importance of good placings in rankings.

News |   19. Dec 2017

Anne Thora Lykkegaard


Out of 95 business schools in Europe, CBS is ranked 51st in Financial Times’ (FT) latest European business schools’ rankings. That is a drop of 16 places compared to last year when they were 35th on the list.

The ranking specifically looks into educations involving Masters in Management (MIM), Full-time MBAs, Executive MBAs (EMBA), and other Executive Educations. Although those programs only make up a small part of CBS’ accumulated portfolio, the ranking is still important, argues Keld Laursen, Professor at the Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics and member of the Academic Council.

“Business schools are always up to the mark when this ranking comes out. It’s about CBS’ reputation, and it’s important for CBS’ ability to attract students to these programs. Even though this ranking is only looking at a small part of CBS’ portfolio, it is not without problems when we drop,” says Keld Laursen and continues:

“Furthermore, I don’t think that the placing before the drop was particularly good when you compare it to other rankings where we compare ourselves with schools that are in the top 10 or 20 brackets.”

The importance of this ranking at CBS is clear. The ranking figures in CBS’ annual report, and when the latest ranking was published, a document, issued by Mia Cudrio Thomsen from the Dean’s Office of Education, with an explanation of the radical drop was sent out to the senior management, the Academic Council, and the interns.

Because there is a good explanation.

Goodbye CBS

The ranking is based on four surveys in which CBS takes part in three of them; full-time MBA, Executive MBA (EMBA), and the Master in Management (MIM). This means that as long as CBS does not participate in the fourth category, it will not be able to get a full score.

But for this ranking, CBS was only able to report on two of the surveys – MIM and full-time MBA. And that has resulted in a drop of 16 places on the ranking. Keld Laursen expects that CBS will move up in the rankings by next year. Poul Hedegaard, MBA Director at CBS, who is not satisfied with this year’s FT ranking, is expecting the same.

“You can never be satisfied with a drop of 16 places. Even if there is a good explanation,” he says and emphasizes the importance of good placings.

“Rankings matter to our students. Three years ago, CBS came in as number 28 in Bloomberg’s Business Week ranking. I think that’s partly why 25 percent of our students are American now. Furthermore, a colleague of mine had an experience where a possible candidate for one of our MBA-programs canceled a meeting in China due to the fact that CBS wasn’t in a specific ranking. So, rankings really matter. But considering that we are up against schools, which have a yearly intake of 1,000 MBA students, I think we are doing a pretty good job. This is not to say that we can’t do better,” he says.

In my opinion, we should be in the top 20

Keld Laursen

Reaching the top

Usually, CBS reports on three out of the four surveys for FT’s ranking. To make a survey count, FT demands that 30 people must graduate from a specific program, among which at least 20 of those will have to complete FT’s survey.

The data used for this year’s ranking stems from 2014, and that was an unusual year for CBS. Only 17 graduated from the EMBA program that year, which is why the EMBA program was not included in this year’s ranking. This has caused CBS to drop in the ranking.

The reason for the low number of graduates is to be found way back in 2011. During that year, CBS fused two EMBA programs. This resulted in huge changes, and it was only possible to recruit students into one of the two programs in the September of 2012. Those students graduated in 2014, but there were only 17 of them. Not enough to meet the requirements for FT.

Both Keld Laursen and Poul Hedegaard expect that CBS will gain back those 16 places for next year’s ranking, but reaching the top might be more of a challenge.

It’s an old invention, but the rankings can't be killed

Poul Hedegaard

“One of the business schools in Europe had 350 MBA students, but they also had a team of 70 employees to attract those students. In comparison, we have a team of 15 for the same assignment. So, by taking that into consideration, I think we are doing a good job. It would require a new range of resources if we were to mingle with the schools that are in the top 10 positions,” says Poul Hedegaard.

Another aspect is the salary. The FT ranking also looks into the salary increase after doing an MBA or Master in Management. And in that, Denmark cannot compete.

“In my opinion, we should be in the top 20. We really should. But what really counts in this ranking is the increase in salary compared to before graduating from a program. In Denmark, it’s difficult to get a big increase compared to other countries. But we could do better on other parameters,” Keld Laursen says and explains that he has received a couple of emails that are worryingly asking about the latest FT ranking.

A Diverse faculty could improve ranking

Apart from looking into different programs, the Financial Times are also interested in the demographics of the faculty.

This being the percentage of female faculty, international faculty, and faculty with a doctorate. Here CBS comes in with the following stats:

Female faculty: 33 percent.

International faculty: 39 percent

Faculty with doctorate: 86 percent.

And to Keld Laursen this is a place in which CBS can improve. And easily at that.

“You get extra points for female faculty, international faculty, and for the amount of faculty who are professors and Ph.Ds. And on that note, I’m not impressed. It should and it can be better. The score on this is simply too low,” he says.

An old-school phenomenon that cannot be killed

CBS is a part of various numbers of rankings. In the small booklet with facts and figures from 2016, CBS is showing its positions in 14 different rankings. Including the one from Financial Times.

And it is, in fact, often newspapers which come up with the rankings. The Economist has one, Bloomberg Business Week has one, and Financial Times has five different rankings, just to name a few.

The reason for this stems back to the times where the internet was not around to give access to information on the other side of the world, explains Poul Hedegaard.

“It’s an old invention. Earlier on, MBA schools only existed in America, and if you were in another part of the world, you couldn’t just figure out which one would be the better one. Because of this, the newspapers started making printed rankings based on different parameters. It has now evolved into a necessary evil. The rankings can’t be killed,” he says and adds:

“Every time a new ranking is published, it causes a lot of debate whether they are being fair and useful. But that fact is that they are there, and we just have to take them into account.”


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