Student and Graduate Publishing

University of Cape Town

Africa’s top business school dedicated to pioneering inclusive business thinking and social innovation.

The University of Cape Town – Africa’s top business school – is one of just 59 schools around the world to be triple-crown accredited and the only African business school ranked in the Financial Times top 100 ranking for its full-time MBA programme.

Africa’s leading business school, the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, (UCT GSB) is focused on growing leaders in emerging markets, grounded in ethical values and equipped to handle complexity, uncertainty and continuous change.

According to GSB director, Professor Walter Baets, the school’s Full Colour Thinking approach cultivates intellectually curious minds, while discarding pre-defined models for more holistic, emergent and creative responses.

Baets says this approach has been internationally recognised. The school is one of just 59 schools around the world to be triple-crown accredited. This means it is accredited by three leading accreditation bodies: EQUIS, Association of MBAs (AMBA) and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The school is also the only African business school ranked in the Financial Times full-time MBA top 100 ranking.

“We are very proud that our hard work and vision have been acknowledged in this way. The GSB is continually striving to remain rooted in relevance, while acting as pioneers of innovative business education, and the FT rankings stand as a testament to this,” Baets says.

He says the rise in the rankings denotes the GSB’s commitment to providing a world-class MBA programme.

The FT ranking is regarded as an authoritative ranking of MBA programmes, partly because of the manner in which they are compiled. The Financial Times incorporates 20 different sets of criteria, including survey responses from alumni who graduated three years prior to the ranking, and a range of information from other business schools. Salary and employment statistics are also weighted heavily – an important factor for potential MBA students.

This year the school has risen to 59th place in the prestigious annual ranking and it is the tenth consecutive year that the GSB has been listed.

According to this year’s ranking, the GSB also offers the second best economics programme in the world and ranks 13th in the world in terms of career progress.

“This ranking and our accreditations are extremely important to potential students, especially international ones who use them to decide which school will best suit them. And the students are also drawn to the GSB because of its growing reputation as an institution that understands emerging markets and emphasises values, inclusive business, social innovation and sustainable leadership,” Baets says.

Recently, the GSB has received a number of other accolades, cementing its reputation as Africa’s top business school.

The school was rated the top business school in Africa at the 6th Eduniversal World Convention of the Best Business Schools 2013, and 39th in the world, tied with Wharton Business School, the University of Pennsylvania, in the Eduniversal Business School Rankings 5 Palmes League. Eduniversal is a rating and ranking system that is distinguished from others by its peer-assessment component, where deans and directors from the top 1 000 schools assess other schools in the selection. 

Currently, the GSB has the largest full-time faculty in Africa and boats 37% international students and 47% international faculty.

The GSB maintains its position as Africa’s top business school through its continued dedication to pioneering inclusive business thinking and social innovation in Africa.

“Through its research and teaching, the GSB encourages taken-for-granted assumptions and practices and encourages students to do the same. We need to recognise that there are multiple realities and truths. The GSB teaches students to engage with different ways of understanding on what is real and true, leading to the discovery of new tools for living in the midst of complexity. This in turn deepens their understanding of ethical business and values-based leadership and how it can create healthier organisations,” Baets says.

He says central to fulfilling this vision, the school has launched a number of initiatives in recent years including The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a social impact and dialogue channel; and the Solution Space, a new innovation and entrepreneurship hub located in the heart of the GSB campus, dedicated to developing a new paradigm for learning and research with an emphasis on building African solutions innovations.

In 2011 the GSB, in association with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation established the Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership, focusing on the central role that values, meaning and purpose play in business.

Other centres of excellence located at the school include the Lean Institute Africa, a non-profit established by Emeritus Professor, Norman Faull to promote lean management in South Africa and the Centre for Coaching.

Unlike other schools situated in developed economies, the GSB is informed by the ebb and flow of the dynamics that define emerging markets, and students benefit from the up-close, hands-on approach to developing leading business thinking while working in diverse teams; witnessing the entire process from idea, to initiative, incubation, and scalability.

Its flagship MBA programme is a transformative programme that pushes students to their limits and empowers students to reach their best personally and professionally. The programme is offered as a one year full-time course or in a two-year modular format.

“The MBA offers popular relevant learning. Students have the option to specialise their studies in the emerging area of social innovation or entrepreneurship. The social innovation lab, which runs as a stream on the MBA via the Bertha Centre, gives students the skills to create opportunities for social and environmental change, through innovation and business thinking,” Baets says.

Besides the MBA, the school also offers an Executive MBA, the only business degree programme in South Africa that is targeted at senior and executive managers and leaders. The modular programme is designed to give students a deeper understanding of the role of business in a global context and build personal mastery.

The curriculum, in responding to the realities on the ground right outside the doors of the GSB, is also completely fresh, and at the forefront of inclusive innovation thinking. Unlike at schools that are more traditional in their approach to teaching about emerging markets, students are exposed to the latest in business model innovation through integrative thinking, systems thinking and design thinking; institutional innovation; cross-boundary collaboration; co-creating through the value chain; developmental ventures; and consumer insights through big data analysis and pattern recognition.

Rigorous research and academic rigour, and an extremely strong faculty enable students to become confident in their own abilities to approach emerging market issues critically, creatively and proactively, while gaining international exposure.

There are also programmes at a pre-MBA level, notably a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and the Associate in Management.
Other programmes include, the Master of Commerce Degree in Development Finance, which according to Baets gives students the skills to influence development trends in an emerging context and make large-scale changes for positive impact, as well as the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation studies.
“South Africa can offer a unique context for study. The GSB aims to provide relevant and innovative business thinking that is geared to addressing emerging market challenges,” Baets says.

The school also boasts an Executive Education Division. This division was one of four divisions at four South African business schools to secure a spot in the 2014 Financial Times global ranking for Executive Education – Customised Programmes.

This ranking tracks the top business schools in this category and presents a global benchmark for providers of executive education. The customised ranking is calculated using data from two sets of online surveys – one for schools and another for clients. Business schools are asked for details of a number of top clients, who are then invited to complete an online survey about the school that nominated them.

“This is really good news. Four South African schools are present in these rankings and seem to compare with the big ones in the world. This bodes well for the quality of executive education in South Africa,” Baets says.