Sights set on Internationalisation


The internationalisation of the School is a key ingredient of its vision: to become a top European school and fulfil its mission with an ambitious global reach. Internationalisation is therefore an ongoing focus, in terms of cultural diversity, educational content, scientific production and corporate connections.

Over the past few years, the SBSEM’s internationalisation strategy has been clarified and significantly strengthened through new and important projects. The School’s ambitions are to strengthen its leading position in Belgium, to establish itself as a European reference institution for high quality education and research, and to expand its international reach and reputation. These objectives are translated into 7 goals, 5 of which have a clear international focus, with the School committed to:

  • increasing its appeal to international students and Faculty
  • improving the international placement of its graduates
  • increasing the number of articles published in top international journals by 25%
  • becoming one of the top 30 business schools in Europe (FT ranking)
  • complying with international quality standards (i.e., acquiring EQUIS and AACSB accreditations).

Learning without borders

The SBS-EM’s international strategy is now based around a central idea: to prepare its stakeholders for international and multicultural careers. This vision is based around two pillars: learning from the world and learning abroad. These pillars pave the way for the internationalisation of the School’s stakeholders: students, faculty, researchers and administrative staff. For each category, strategic initiatives have been developed to move forward in these two directions. Measuring instruments have also been developed to provide ongoing assessment of the SBS-EM’s progress towards its objectives. In terms of learning abroad, the exchange programmes now involve nearly 100% of students; in addition to these there are many new double degrees and the new QTEM Network Master’s degree which now includes 13 academic partners. For double degrees, the objective set in 2012 to offer 7 of these by 2015 has been reached and has been raised to 10 for 2018. With regard to the School, the objective set in 2012 for 2015 that 50% of the teaching staff should have had a minimum of 2 years’ international experience has been exceeded, with a score of 62%, and the aim is now to make it 70% by 2018. In terms of learning from abroad, this objective requires both recruiting international teaching staff and welcoming foreign students. In all areas of training, from the bachelor degree to the doctoral programme, the percentage of international students is showing a net increase. These results could not be achieved without the recruitment of international staff members and through an improved ability to communicate in English. The Faculty is strengthening both these elements. It has recruited an increasing number of internationals and has adopted the policy of offering both the funding and time necessary to improve English proficiency. Fifteen staff appointed are of foreign origin, ie 30% of the SBS-EM’s administrative staff. All of which is just a small sample of the fruits of the international strategy drawn up by the SBS-EM, some of the most important initiatives of which are presented here.

International student body

To prepare students for international careers, the School needs to place them in an international learning environment here in Brussels, let them experience multiculturality in practice and expose them to international issues and challenges.

Bachelor degrees are primarily taught in French for very junior students who join us straight from their secondary school diploma; hence the School has little chance of attracting a large proportion of international students to this degree. In 2015, they accounted for 21%. The School has greater ambitions for the Master programmes (22% of international students in 2015); greater still for Advanced and Specialised Masters (39% in 2015, compared with 30% in 2012), and greatest of all for the MBA (89% in 2015, compared with 84% in 2012) and PhD programmes (66% in 2015, compared with 63% in 2012).

These results are certainly helped by the fact that the SBS-EM offers several Master’s degrees in English and that the Advanced Masters, the MBA and doctoral programmes are 100% English-speaking.

The school’s vision is based around two pillars:
learning from the world and learning abroad

Course content on international issues

The School has consistently made an effort to expand the international dimension of its curriculum. Many courses (37% in Master programmes for instance) systematically include an international perspective and most of them rely on theories and case studies with an international dimension.

Their aim is to help prepare future managers to deal with the strategic, operational, ethical, cultural and organisational challenges generated by the internationalisation of economic activities. Examples include: International economic relations; Regulation of markets & corporations in the EU; Case studies in international strategy; Topics in international trade and sustainable development; R&D in multinationals, etc.

In the case of MBAs, 100% of courses have an international dimension.

Internationalisation of the Core Faculty

International members account for about 30% of the Core Faculty. In addition, about 36% of the Core Faculty obtained their PhDs in top universities, including Harvard, Chicago, Columbia, Caltech, John Hopkins, Cambridge, Warwick, Munich, Vienna, Strasbourg, Lausanne and Geneva. More generally, most Core Faculty members (56%) have at least 2 years’ relevant international experience, which is the criterion that the SBS-EM uses to assess the internationalisation of its Core Faculty.

Gaining the Triple Crown

Accreditation of the School is increasingly considered as a necessary condition for entering into international partnerships. Without accreditations, several international exchange agreements would have never been signed, especially outside Europe. Structural alliances are also easier to initiate. In addition, accreditations are a necessary condition of eligibility for the Financial Times Rankings.

The SBS-EM recently renewed its AMBA accreditation (for the MBA programmes), which it has held since 2002. Since 2005, it has also gained 3-year EQUIS accreditations (for the entire School). The EQUIS peer review team is coming to the School in March 2016; following their visit, a 5-year EQUIS accreditation may be granted.

In 2014, the SBS-EM also began the AACSB accreditation process – the American counterpart to EQUIS. This accreditation is important in creating partnerships with non-European institutions, especially in the U.S. Accreditation bodies help the SBS-EM compare itself with its international peers and provide essential feedback for the School to match international standards in its field.

International exchange programme

Students have a number of opportunities to learn from the world by travelling abroad. These opportunities are provided by the exchange programme (compulsory for the majority of students), the credited internship programme (see page 27), double degrees, joint degrees in the QTEM Network and intensive study trips abroad, including participation in case study competitions. Since 2010 the exchange is also mandatory in the Master in Management Science. Compared to 2005, the number of incoming and outgoing students has doubled to reach over 350 outgoing students and more than 250 incoming students (see page 16).

QTEM Network

The QTEM Network (Quantitative Techniques for Economics and Management) was officially launched in Brussels on 5 September 2012, under the initiative and leadership of the SBS-EM, in partnership with several prestigious academic institutions.

The QTEM Network aims to set up a new international networked Master programme targeting first-rate students from top business and economics schools worldwide. The objective is to provide quantitatively skilled professionals with a business and policy mind-set and substantial international experience. The network exploits complementarities between institutions, allowing the students to diversify their learning opportunities in a quantitative environment. Participants benefit from a strong international exposure (in addition to the home institution, participants will be exposed to two top institutions from the network) and from a deep immersion in the reality of top-notch companies (through a compulsory internship). In practice, participants on this 2-year curriculum receive the standard Master degree from their home institution, together with the QTEM Network certificate.

Credited internships

All first-year Master students can opt for a longterm, full-time internship for a minimum of 16 weeks and up to 6 months in a professional environment, preferably abroad. The internship is credited with 25 ECTS following a successful evaluation. Such internships are compulsory for students enrolled in the QTEM networked programme and in the European Microfinance Programme. The aim with credited internships is to offer students a first professional experience, during which they can apply the concepts acquired at the SBS-EM, and to prepare them for an increasingly competitive international job market.

The Credited Internship Programme was created in 2013. Six Students participated in the first year, 77 in the second year, and 90 students are expected to complete an internship in the current academic year (2015-2016). Nearly 40% of internships were performed abroad.


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