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Barcelona is sixth city in the world for attracting international talent, according to ESADE's 'MBA City Monitor 2017'

Barcelona climbs two positions but remains behind other European cities such as London or Paris

Barcelona is the sixth city in the world for attracting international MBA students, according to ranking results in the 'MBA City Monitor 2017' published by ESADE. The report was written by Ivan Bofarull, director of ESADE's Global Insights & Strategic Initiatives, and measures the attractiveness of cities for international MBA students. The Barcelona area, with 924 international full-time MBA students, has climbed two positions since the previous report and now ranks joint sixth with Toronto (with 927 international MBA students).

The city with the greatest attraction for international MBA students is Boston, which maintains the first position it held in the previous report, with 1,582 full-time MBA students enrolled during the same period – followed by greater New York (1,474 students), London (1,228 students), Paris (1,068 students) and Chicago (1,031 students). Chicago, despite ranking fifth, has dropped two positions.

‘One of the highlights of this year's ranking is the rise of the three European cities, which are now benchmarks in the field of global MBA talent: London, Paris, and Barcelona. One possible explanation is that these cities, which include schools such as the London Business School, Oxford, Cambridge, Insead, HEC, IESE, and ESADE have benefited in recent months from the new orientation that the Trump administration has adopted for international visitors. Prospective students are now showing a greater interest in European destinations, rather than the USA,’ remarked the report’s author Ivan Bofarull.

Boston to New York - the most prestigious area

The author of the report explained that: ‘the MBA City Monitor shows that the Ivy League area – which includes elite American universities such as Harvard, MIT, Yale, and Columbia, is still the dominant geographical area for attracting excellent international talent.’

The ​​San Francisco and Silicon Valley area, however, dropped one position since the last report and was ranked eighth with 669 full-time MBA students – behind Barcelona and Toronto. ‘One of the main reasons for the decline in San Francisco and Silicon Valley is probably the high cost of living in the region, one of the highest in the world. The same thing is happening with Singapore,’ said Bofarull. Singapore, ranked tenth with 615 students, also fell one position and now shares position with Philadelphia – which retains the same ranking as last year with 613 students.

The MBA City Monitor also reveals growth in MBA student numbers for the area around Interstate 40 in North Carolina (USA), which rises one position to number nine with 635 students. ‘Surprisingly, the emerging Asian hubs are still struggling to attract large numbers of full-time MBA talent, in contrast with the high growth for other types of educational programmes in the region such as Executive MBAs,’ said Bofarull.

Opportunities for talent retention

The MBA City Monitor shows where talent is going and indicates opportunities that cities and nations should exploit to retain talent. ‘Students who move to do a full-time MBA – which may take between 12 and 24 months – show great commitment and very carefully choose the school and location. Our analysis is a tool for city, regional, and national governments to measure the amount of global and mobile talent that temporarily resides in their cities,’ explains Bofarull.

To research the report, which was first published in 2013, the top 100 universities listed in the Financial Times full-time MBA ranking were evaluated and universities were grouped by geographic areas around a city – including all universities within a two-hour radius.

Link to report

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