Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is reputed to have spent time in the ancient city of Segovia in Spain in the late 15th century, postulating that, since the world was spherical, one could discover trade routes to Asia by traveling west.

It is perhaps fitting then that IE Business School, the Madrid-based business school, has chosen Segovia as the location to further its plans for global expansion.

Although the machinations of mergers and acquisitions are part of the bedrock of business school teaching, it is a rare establishment that practices what it preaches. Last Thursday, however, IE put in place the final piece of the jigsaw surrounding its acquisition of the private Spanish university SEK in Segovia, which it announced in January last year, by unveiling the restructured institution and the names of those who would be in charge.

IE Higher Education, as the new institution will be called, is looking to capture the global post-graduate and professional market, says Santiago Iniguez, who retains his job as dean of IE Business School but also becomes rector of IE Higher Education.

“We require all degrees to have a course on management,” he says. “The philosophy is that management is behind every profession.”

The new educational institution will have four schools: the business school (degree programmes); executive education; IE University, which will house the undergraduate degrees; and IE postgraduate schools – law, architecture, organisational psychology, communications and history of art.

The business school is by far the biggest chunk of the new university, with an income of â?¬62m (£49.5m) – the rest of the university has revenues of less than one fifth of that. In five years, however, Prof Iniguez is hoping for an income from the combined institution of between â?¬120m and â?¬130m.

His plans are ambitious. Within two years, he hopes to double the size of the faculty to 220. Most significantly, he says, is that professors will be recruited to join a single faculty that will teach across all programmes. “The idea is to exploit the synergies [between the different subjects].”

Some 80 per cent of these programmes will be postgraduate degrees and executive education, and all new degree programmes will be taught in English. But he also hopes to break the mould by using blended learning, a combination of online and face-to-face tuition, at undergraduate level. IE Business School has used this kind of teaching practice to good effect in its Executive MBA programmes but it is an unproved medium at undergraduate level for students who are 18 or 19 years old.

Prof Iniguez argues that this technology will enable these younger students to spend six months of the year in their home country and the rest in Segovia, which will be home to the undergraduate degrees (postgraduate degrees will be taught in Madrid). This will enable the new institution to meet its target of having 80 per cent non-Spanish nationals in its student body.

One of the first programmes to be announced is that of an undergraduate degree in business. “This will complete our strategy to be a full-service business school,” says Prof Iniguez.

Original published by Financial Times, April 14.

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