As an MBA education becomes increasingly valued in Africa and the Middle East, its top business schools are increasing both in quality and number. There are not, as of yet, any ‘elite global’ schools here, but perhaps it is only a matter of time, for its leading schools currently sit in the ‘emerging global’ group.
A growing number of HR managers across Africa and the Middle East are using an MBA as a differentiator. Managers here have shared their views on the schools they would prioritize for MBA hiring, with the range of employers giving a balance across sectors and industries. Responders include Deloitte Consulting, Investec Bank Ltd, Microsoft, Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Aramco across the region.
Below is an analysis of the top five business schools for Africa and the Middle East as distinguished by, and based on, the results of the 2013/14 QS Global 200 Business Schools Report.
American University of Sharjah a new entry in Africa & the Middle East
The UAE’s American University of Sharjah is perhaps the most attention-grabbing of the five top business schools for employer recognition across Africa and the Middle East. It is a new entry into the Global 200 this year and instantly takes up third position, bringing the number of ‘emerging global’ schools in the region up to four for 2013/14.
Founded as recently as 1997, the American University of Sharjah (AUS) (pictured at top of page), has improved its reputation considerably over the past three years – acquiring AACSB international accreditation and opening a new state-of-the-art business and management school building.
Its status as a relative newcomer can perhaps explain why it is more amenable to candidates with fewer years of work experience under their belts. On average, students at the American University of Sharjah have three years’ prior experience, whereas schools elsewhere in the top five concentrate on those with seven or eight years.
Also worth noting is that the American University of Sharjah posts the highest international student-body figures for the region – with its 44% proportion of overseas students close to double the 24% reported by University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business – which is again the top-ranked school here.
South African schools remain on top in the region
The University of Cape Town (pictured) is one of two South African schools at the top of our table, with its compatriot, the University of Witwatersrand, rising to second from third place last year. The American University in Cairo subsequently falls from second to fourth – perhaps because it is still feeling the aftereffects of Egypt’s recent political turbulence. However, the American University in Cairo does register the highest GMAT average in the region this year with 583.
Fifth on our list is Lebanon’s The Suliman S. Olayan School of Business at The American University of Beirut, which lies in the ‘elite regional’ category. The Lebanese school, along with the American University of Sharjah, has this year recorded a majority of female students (56% at Sharjah and 55% at The American University of Beirut.) These are uncommon figures not just for the region, but also globally, as only four schools in North America and four in Europe post a majority of female students in this year’s Global 200.
In terms of average starting salaries, MBA graduates of the South African schools at the Universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand can look forward to something in the region of US$50,000 (figures for the three top business schools in the Middle East are unfortunately unavailable for a comparison).