The decision came after UCL decided to scrap plans to launch its own MBA programme at its new business school.

UCL opened its school of management a year ago, with director Bert de Reyck announcing that it would launch both a part-time executive MBA and a full-time two-year programme. The school, which is designed to rival the UK’s leading business education providers, describes itself as an institution "creating disruptive research and entrepreneurial leaders for the complex, interconnected world of the future."

De Reyck said at the time:

We aim to create a top school committed to the delivery of world-leading research, economic and societal impact and robustly academic business training.

Under the initial plan, the school would have launched an MBA in 2018. Initially, the MBA was to be a two-year executive programme, drawing on the financial and business community in Canary Wharf for its participants. The one-year full-time programme should have been launched later.

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Uncertainty over demand

But offering a standalone MBA at this stage would be “dangerous” because of uncertainty over demand, de Reyck said during an interview for the opening of the school’s campus on the 38th floor of One Canada Square, Canary Wharf’s central skyscraper.

The MBA market is “saturated” and showing signs of decline, he added, citing recent figures from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which showed a fall in applications for full-time two-year MBA programmes, particularly at US business schools.

If you are one of the top players it is still a good market to be in, but if you are not, there is high risk.

UCL will create more specialist postgraduate business degree programmes — which de Reyck described as the “low-hanging fruit” — such as the masters in finance degree which is planned to start next year.

One of the advantages of setting up a business school from scratch was that decisions to change courses could be made quickly, de Reyck noted.

UCL on expansion course

The creation of the school of management has been part of an ambitious GBP-1.25-billion expansion plan for UCL, which recently prompted the provost to warn staff that the institution was now in “a barely financially sustainable situation”.

De Reyck, who was headhunted from London Business School to oversee the creation of the school of management, said a merger with his former employer had been considered, but the idea was dismissed because UCL felt it could do better starting from scratch.

The school of management has been created within UCL’s engineering department and is promoting itself as a specialist in entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and analytics.

The launch of the school is part of a growing ecosystem of business teaching in London. In 2014, both Lancaster and Warwick Business School announced they would teach in London — Warwick’s London campus is in the Shard, the capital’s tallest building.

Source: The Financial Times