The low-profile EDHEC Business School with campuses in Lille, Nice, Paris, London and Singapore and an aggregate enrolment of 8,117 students, offers excellent infrastructure and English language curriculums at almost half the price of Americas top B-schools -Paromita Sengupta
For business management education, America with its globally-renowned blue-chip B-schools — Harvard (estb.1908), Chicago Booth (1898), MIT (1914), Stanford (1925), North-western (1908) among others — which routinely top all B-school league tables, is Mecca. Alumni of these prestigious and well-endowed schools not only land the best jobs in India Inc when (and if) they return, but also have the enviable option of bagging the best entry-level jobs in the US and most countries around the world.
However in recent years, the cost of an American business degree has gone through the roof and become unaffordable for students from India, since they also have to reckon with continuous depreciation of the rupee. Consequently, the majority of students from the subcontinent in American business schools tend to be the pampered progeny of promoter-directors of well-established business houses certain to be parachuted into the boardroom. Therefore, the offspring of business and corporate professionals intent on offshore business management qualifications and obliged to rely on family savings and high interest education loans grudgingly dispensed by Indian banks, are enrolling in hitherto low-profile European B-schools which according to all indicators, offer as good education in equally, if not more salubrious environments, at half the price. For instance, annual tuition and residence fees in the best European B-schools are in the range of $44,250 and $48,900 (Rs.30-34 lakh) per year cf. Harvard B-school’s $88,682 (Rs.60 lakh).
After the liberalisation of the Chinese and Indian economies in the 1990s, and establishment of the World Trade Organisation (1995), managements of Europe’s insular B-schools have become aware of the importance of attracting students from around the world to promote inter-cultural respect and understanding, and provide indigenous students networking opportunities necessary for business and professional success in the rapidly expanding global economy. All of them, therefore, have started offering business management study programmes of various duration in English, now the accepted lingua franca of global business and industry.
Against this backdrop of low-profile, vintage European business management institutions beginning to challenge America’s hitherto all-conquering B-schools, in late March, the Lille (France)-based EDHEC Business School (formerly the Ecole des Hautes Edutes Commerciales (estb. 1906)) invited a group of journalists from the UK (Management Today, PIE News, and Business Reporter) and India (Economic Times, Financial Express, Times of India and EducationWorld) to acquaint them with its newly articulated aims and objectives, impressive curriculums, infrastructure and student body diversity, and to showcase the school’s state-of-the-art campuses in Lille, Nice and Paris. In addition, EDHEC has two campuses in London and Singapore with an aggregate enrolment of 8,117 students mentored by 150 permanent faculty. The visiting journalists were favourably impressed and expressed surprise about this vintage B-school’s modest international profile.
However within industry, business and the cognoscenti in Europe if not worldwide, EDHEC enjoys an excellent reputation. In its 2017 league table ranking the world’s top B-schools, the London-based Financial Times ranks EDHEC #1 worldwide for its Masters in finance degree programme, #1 in France for its MBA in entrepreneurship and among the Top 15 European B-schools overall. In the 2018 Multirank Assessment of the European Union — which ranks over 1,600 higher education institutions and universities worldwide (including 60 in France) on 29 parameters including research, quality of teaching and learning, international orientation among others — EDHEC is awarded top score on the greatest number of parameters with special mention for teaching excellence and international orientation.
Among EDHEC’s high-profile alumni are Franck Moison, vice-chairman of Colgate-Palmolive (USA); Sophie Bellon, chairperson of Sodexho (France); Yasunori Iwanaga, chief investment officer of Amundi Asset Management (Japan); Satish Jha, chairman and CEO of XCube and Vahan AI (USA) and Rahul Roy, director of business development, Gutenberg LLC (Delhi).
“EDHEC’s core mission is to provide students on all our campuses exposure to new challenges posed by the emergence of a global marketplace. Today, one of every three students enrolled in EDHEC is from beyond French borders; 20 percent of the school’s annual revenue (€121.5 million or Rs.917 crore) is contributed by overseas students; six of ten faculty are non-French and more than one-third of our graduates work for companies abroad. Moreover EDHEC’s Risk Institute in Nice is the only European academic institution in business management that sells its research products to companies around the world,” says Dr. Emmanuel Metais, dean of EDHEC. An alum of the ESSEC Business School, Paris which also awarded him a Ph D in strategy management, Metais signed up with EDHEC in 1995 and was appointed dean last September.
Lille campus. A 60-minute ride from Paris on France’s superfast TGV train, Lille is popularly regarded as the cultural capital of France and hosts EDHEC’s flagship campus, sited on 8.5 hectares of verdant parkland which was blooming with cherry blossom when we visited. This history-rich city is renowned for its splendid Flemish architecture displayed in 19th century baroque buildings lining cobbled streets; the Palais des Bank Arts, second only to the Louvre, Paris in size and housing works by Monet, Raphael, Rubens, Van Gogh and Donatelli among others; the stately 17th century stock exchange building; the Grand Place town square and the picturesque town hall and belfry, several museums and markets.
The campus offers its 4,000 students from over 35 nationalities a digitally networked library, 35 lecture rooms, 21 lecture halls, a 760-seat auditorium and the EDHEC Entrepreneurs Incubator. Indoor sports facilities include a swimming pool, sports hall, dance studio, and gym. Outdoor facilities include football and rugby grounds.
For off-campus recreation, the city offers an excellent public transport system, multiple dining options (including several Indian restaurants), a host of cinemas, parks, shopping malls and boutiques in a temperate oceanic climate, with cool summers (15°-25°C) and cold winters (-5°-10°C). Students from India are advised to arrive well-equipped with woollies because well-styled and bespoke tailoring is prohibitively expensive by Indian standards.
“The campus is beautifully landscaped and provides excellent infrastructure for study and extra-curricular activities. With students from over 35 countries, apart from business education one also receives rich French and inter-cultural education and opportunity to build enduring friendships and networks,” says Snehil Ranvir Singh, an engineering alumnus of Manipal Academy of Higher Education who signed up for EDHEC’s two-year Masters programme in management last September.
While none of EDHEC’s campuses offer residential accommodation for students, the Lille campus is an exception. First year students have the first option of living in single occupancy furnished studios with shared facilities. Moreover, the students’ council arranges for private housing options. Monthly rent varies from €300-500 (Rs.23,900-39,852) for studio accommodation to €400-600 for apartments on a shared basis.
Nice campus. An hour by air and six hours by train from Paris, Nice (pop. 347,060) on the French Riviera, is world-famous for its sandy beaches and warm Mediterranean climate. Over the past two decades, the city, which attracts 4 million tourists annually, has also emerged as a hub of technology and biotech start-ups. EDHEC’s modern 14,500 sq. m campus, a stone’s throw away from the city’s picturesque Cote D’Azur airport, offers this B-school’s compressed 10-month global MBA to 180-plus students with over four years industry and business experience. The Nice campus also hosts Ph D scholars and offers short-term executive programmes.
Academic facilities include 13 lecture halls, 22 lecture rooms, five computing and e-learning rooms, an incubator and trading room, a state-of-the-art gym, amphitheatre, and private study cubicles equipped with computers and wi-fi. The management arranges private accommodation off campus.
Paris. EDHEC has a nominal presence in Paris (pop.2.2 million), the stylish administrative capital of France widely admired for its shaded boulevards, bridges of the Seine, Eiffel Tower, Louvre art gallery and the 12th-century Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral among other historic landmarks. EDHEC’s modest premises on a single floor of a commercial building provides executive education programmes and hosts the B-school’s companies and counselling department and the Graduates Association.
Apart from the three campuses, the EDHEC management has also established several unique initiatives. Among those visited by your correspondent:
EDHEC Entrepreneurs Incubator. Housed in the Lille campus, the EDHEC Entrepreneurs Incubator (estb. 2010) provides infrastructure, aid and advice and funding to promising research and entrepreneurial initiatives. The best and most promising projects of EDHEC graduates — ‘laureates’ — are promoted to Station F, Paris, reportedly the world’s largest start-up campus spread over 34,000 sq. m. Inside Station F, EDHEC alumni donors and philanthropists have funded 40 (out of 1,000) fully-equipped work stations for promising young entrepreneurs to incubate their start-ups.
“At the EDHEC incubator, we handhold our graduates intent on promoting technology and other start-ups. Every year, we recommend 30 of our best graduate start-up entrepreneurs to Station F to accelerate development of their projects,” says Jean-Michel Ledru, a former serial entrepreneur who heads the EDHEC incubation programme.
EDHEC Risk Institute (ERI). Hosted by EDHEC’s Nice campus, ERI (estb. 2001) is a financial research institution which undertakes independent and commissioned financial research projects. Among its clientele are global financial giants such as BlackRock Inc and the Goldman Sachs Group.
“Top firms around the world use EDHEC’s research. To deepen our commitment to financial research that benefits society, EDHEC has teamed up with the department of operations research and financial engineering of Princeton University, USA for research projects, faculty training and innovation of financial products for business and industry,” says Lionel Martellini, professor of finance, director of ERI and senior scientific advisor of ERI’s Scientific Beta, a firm founded by ERI in 2012, which has become a world leader in calculating and producing beta indices purchased by institutional and high net worth investors to assess country risk.
EDHEC’s education programmes
Lille campus. Nine undergrad and postgrad study programmes including the four-year International Bachelor’s in Business Administration, two-year Masters in Management, Business Management, Masters in marketing management, M.Sc in entrepreneurship and innovation, M.Sc in data analytics.
Nice. Six study programmes including Global MBA, Ph D in finance and part-time executive education programmes
Paris. Part-time executive education programmes
Tuition fees excluding BBA (per year): €19,200-34,200 (Rs.15.2- 27.13 lakh)
Living expenses (per year): €10,000 (Rs.8 lakh)