Letter Requests Delay in the Development of Business School Rankings

GMAC joined AACSB and EFMD, in coordination with MBA CSEA, in requesting a collaborative discussion with business school rankings organizations as COVID-19 continues to impact business education. In the letter, industry leaders highlight how the current environment stands to alter key metrics that rankings institutions rely on to produce their respective data sets. GMAC and its partners note the challenges b-schools and current students are facing, along with questions prospective students are asking, like when they can arrive on campus. 
While the letter makes the case for delay, it also highlights the fact that business schools are responding to the emergent needs of industry, local communities, and learners in innovative ways, carrying the potential for new areas of measurement in b-school rankings. 

April 17, 2020

Bloomberg Businessweek
The Economist
Forbes
Financial Times
QS
US News & World Report

This has been an unprecedented few months for our world. As we all continue to navigate the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, our first thought is for the safety and well-being of our frontline healthcare professionals and everyone who continues to be impacted by these difficult circumstances. 

The reach of COVID-19 knows no boundaries:

  • Business schools and students are dealing with questions of when and how upcoming classes will begin, as all formats shift online.
  • MBA and business master’s graduates, poised to join a historically strong job market with record-high salaries for MBA’s, now find themselves dealing with uncertainty. 
  • While mobility has become a significant issue over the past few years, the current environment has effectively halted cross-border travel, a reality that will not resolve itself quickly. Accepted students face uncertainty about obtaining visas and getting to campus for the start of their chosen program. 
  • Governments around the world are grappling with how to manage their respective economies; commerce has come to a halt. 

Business school deans and administrators have always understood the impact outside forces have on their mission to develop diverse, high-level talent in their classrooms. Traditionally, such forces have included economic fluctuations, trade wars, advances in technology, and political factors. 

The forces we face today are extraordinary. 

As industry leaders representing business schools and candidates, AACSB, EFMD and GMAC understand and appreciate the impact COVID-19 has had and will continue to have on the admissions process, coupled with the economic uncertainty for graduates and potential employers. Given this new normal, we need to work together to mitigate the negative impact of the crisis for schools and students around the world. Therefore, we strongly advocate that all rankings institutions postpone their work and publication on business school rankings, to provide business schools worldwide the opportunity to rebound in these tumultuous circumstances. 

The current crisis will have unknown impacts on key metrics that rankings institutions rely on to create their respective products. Graduating students, recent alumni and companies that recruit business school graduates are all dealing with their own challenges—a fact that on its own stands to skew results in a way that calls the viability of rankings surveys into question. 

While requesting this exceptional delay, our organizations, in line with perspective also shared by MBA CSEA, are also willing and eager to join you in a conversation that will help our community better understand the short and long-term implications COVID-19 will have on business education. These include increased restriction of student mobility, test center closures, and how corporations will assess hiring plans and growth in a time of contraction; all key metrics across any set of rankings. At the same time, we are seeing business schools respond to the emergent needs of businesses, local communities, and learners in agile and innovative ways that carry the opportunity for new areas of measurement; also a critical aspect of the rankings discussion.  We believe a collaborative dialogue will lead to stronger, more valid outcomes in the end, for all stakeholders. 

We need to do everything we can to support business schools in this environment, including their current and prospective students. We thank you for your consideration.  

Sincerely,

Thomas Robinson
President and CEO, AACSB

Eric Cornuel
President, EFMD

Sangeet Chowfla
President and CEO, GMAC