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The Canadian schools that made FT’s global Top 100 MBA list


Vlad Kochelaevskiy/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

Six Canadian business schools made the Financial Times list of top 100 MBA programs in the world – one more than last year but down from nine in 2001.

As usual, the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management led the contingent of Canadian schools on the prestigious list. Rotman placed 46th, down two spots from last year, while the University of Alberta's School of Business, absent since 2010, returned in 100th place.

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Showing strong improvement was the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, rising 25 spots to 57th while York University's Schulich School of Business edged up seven places to 52nd. McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management dropped 15 spots to 76th, two places ahead of the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, down 10 places from last year.

The strong showing for Canadian schools – especially in sub-categories of research and international content – comes as Asian business schools continue their muscular rise. According to the FT, 14 of the top 100 schools are from the Asia-Pacific region, up from 11 in 2012, with six from China and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 8th place globally.

"Like many other fields, we are seeing an ascendency [of China], not just in terms of numbers of students and schools, but in quality," says Joseph Doucet, interim dean of U of A's business school. "That points to a more competitive environment for attracting students … and a more competitive environment in which to hire, which points to the value to us in reaching out to international partners." This spring, for example, his school will offer a Master of Financial Management in China in co-operation with Xi'an Jiaotong University in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

In an e-mail released by Rotman, dean Roger Martin said the reduced number of Canadian schools in the ranking compared with a decade ago "is a reflection of how difficult it is to compete against the emergence of a large number of small EMBA-sized programs at schools whose main focus is not the creation of business knowledge and who do not offer PhD programs." He added that the heavy weighting of salary inputs is a "significant challenge" for Canadian schools, since salaries here are lower than in the United States, Britain and Europe.

Still, Canadian schools ranked high on research output. Excluding private institutions, Rotman placed third globally, followed by Sauder in 6th and U of A's business school placing 9th.

Among Canadian schools, Sauder owes its sharp climb up the rankings to several factors: alumni success in landing well-paying jobs despite an uncertain economy; an increasingly internationalized faculty (76 per cent from abroad, compared with 68 per cent last year) and, with a revamped MBA program introduced last year, more international study opportunities.

"Schools that are paying a lot more attention to their global footprint seem to be rewarded in this marketplace," says Murali Chandrashekaran, associate dean of professional graduate programs. Next month, Sauder students head off for two weeks to one of three destinations, Singapore, Copenhagen or India, to work on projects. "They immerse themselves globally, come back and become more globally-minded," he says.

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For Ivey, its drop in the ranking comes for a second year after tying for 46th spot with Rotman – tops among Canadian schools – in 2011.

"It's not where I would like to be," says Eric Morse, faculty program director at Ivey, with responsibility for MBA and undergraduate business programs. He says some factors work against the school, including the timing of a questionnaire about post-graduation employment and the absence of international exchanges in Ivey's 12-month MBA program (though students do go on a 10-day overseas study tour). But, as usual, Ivey led Canadian schools in post-graduation salaries – $102,064 (U.S.) this year.

"We won't change our strategy to win on the rankings," says Mr. Morse, but adds his school hopes to boost the current below-average 29 per cent of women pursuing an MBA – one factor in the FT list.

Ethics leader

For the third year in a row, Ryerson University business professor Chris MacDonald has been named one of the "top 100 thought leaders in trustworthy business behaviour," by Trust Across America, a U.S. organization that promotes corporate ethics. Dr. MacDonald, director of the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Education and Research Program at the Ted Rogers School of Management, writes The Business Ethics Blog.

Student winners

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At JDC West, an annual undergraduate student-run business-school competition in Western Canada held last month, the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan walked off with top honours, followed by the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba and the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. The "school of the year" honours recognize the performance of students competing in several categories, including academics, athletics, debating and charity fundraising.

At JDC Central, also held last month, students from the Wilfrid Laurier University's School of Business and Economics walked off with top honours for the fourth year in a row, followed by the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University and Carleton University's Sprott School of Business. Laurier also won the academic cup at the competition for the second year running.

Editor's note: This version of the story has the results of the JDC Central competition, which just came in. A previous version did not have these results.

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