In Canada, Business Schools Lead Push for Globalization

By Jennifer Lewington
The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 1, 2012 

Experiential Learning

At English-speaking McGill University, with its business school one-fifth the total enrollment size of HEC Montréal, delivering an international experience is central to branding efforts by the Desautels Faculty of Management.

Every year, about 30 handpicked undergraduate and graduate business students head off for a 10-day “hot cities tour”—this year to South Africa—to meet top government officials and business leaders. For a major in international management, introduced in 2009, undergraduates must pursue some kind of experiential learning in the form of an international exchange or internship, or study of foreign language.

Rated No. 1 in Canada (and 13th in the world) by the Financial Times for the percentage of international faculty (81 percent), Desautels also attracts a strong contingent of students from abroad: 40 to 60 percent of graduate business enrollment and 35 percent of undergraduates.

In 2010, Desautels created a storm when it hiked tuition for its two-year graduate business program. Canadian residents had to pay $29,551 a year, the same fee as international students. Previously, the tuition was $2,072 for those living in Quebec. The move sparked a yearlong battle with the provincial government, which controls tuition.

The standoff ended in August 2011 with McGill paying a fine and the government recognizing the high international content of all aspects of Desautels’ graduate program relative to other Quebec institutions. This fall, for example, students must spend a week to 10 days overseas in a major international city to learn how business works on the ground.

“Because of the globalization of business—and that is only going to continue—this is an area to differentiate yourself academically,” says Don Melville, director of M.B.A. and master’s programs at Desautels.

Even with higher tuition—now $69,160 over two years—Desautels is below the $98,689 rate for international students at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and it’s cheaper than top schools in the United States.

The price tag and the length of the program at Desautels were both factors in the decision by Soeren Klatt, a 29-year-old from Hamburg, Germany, to come to Montreal for his master of business administration.

“In Canada and Montreal, it is a good program for a good price compared to U.S. universities,” he says, with the added bonus of Montreal as a bilingual city in an immigrant-friendly country.

Mr. Klatt says he is already getting a jump-start on his future business career because of the international profile of his class of 58 students.

He recalls working on a case study with a country-music singer from Canada and a former dental-company employee from Iran. “They showed me there are different ways to approach a problem,” he said.

“I am constantly interacting with a person from another country,” he adds. “It is like a primer for my future employment.”

The success of Canadian business schools in raising their international profile has not gone unnoticed by many campuses.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

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