TiasNimbas withdraws from Germany

Von am 16. Juli 2011

After 16 years offering a part time MBA program in Bonn, the TiasNimbas Business School in Tilburg has decided to terminate its presence in Germany. The school sees a structural problem due to the increased MBA competition in the German market. With less than 20 students in the German program TiasNimbas also has problems with its AMBA accreditation. At the same time the business school terminates its long standing collaboration with the British Bradford School of Management. Dean Ramon O’Callaghan about his decisions and his ambition to become one of the top 20 business Schools in Europe.

Your withdrawal from Germany came quite surprising. As far as I have heard, the interest for the new class was quite good and the recruitment period is still going on.

The recruitment period is over. The application deadline for the Part Time MBA programs is July 15. The reality is that by the deadline, we do not have enough applicants. Certainly not more than the 15 students last year. This was obvious already two weeks ago. Then the number of leads (people who had showed interest but had not applied) was not sufficient to hope for a last minute conversion into many more applicants.

Are there also other reasons behind this decision? Does TiasNimbas perhaps have some financial problems?

TiasNimbas has a sound financial position. Over the last five years we have doubled our turnover to 26,4 million Euros. Today 62% of our revenues come from executive education, 22% come from MBA programs, and 17% come from other activities (MSc, DBA, and research). Our MBA program portfolio includes 5 programs: Full-Time MBA, an International Executive MBA, and three part time MBA programs (in Utrecht, in Tilburg and in Bonn). All these programs are doing well, except for the Bonn MBA.

The Bonn program has consistently had a low number of participants in the past 4 years. We believe this is a structural problem due to the increased MBA competition in the German market. We do not see the marketability of this program improving in the future. Additionally the part time MBA in Bonn poses a problem for accreditation as AMBA does not accredit programs with less than 20 participants. The small class size of the part time MBA Bonn was raised as a concern by AMBA during the re-accreditation process last February. They told us: … “If the minimum of 20 students cannot be achieved, the Bonn program should be discontinued if the School wishes to retain accreditation for the other MBA programs.”

You also terminate the collaboration with Bradford, although Bradford always has been very important for TiasNimbas because of it good position in the FT ranking. So what are the reasons for this decision?

When Nimbas was established in 1987, they sought the cooperation of Bradford School of Management to offer a Bradford MBA degree. Nimbas was not a university, and could not offer its own degrees and had to rely on the faculty and academic input from Bradford. With the merger of Tias and Nimbas, the situation changed and the nature of the relationship with Bradford evolved. Tias was part of the large and well established Tilburg University.

Therefore you will understand that from the perspective of Tilburg University, it was considered no longer appropriate that its daughter TiasNimbas would continue to operate the MBA program as a “franchise” of Bradford. Hence TiasNimbas and Bradford agreed to offer a double degree MBA program, i.e. a program leading to two degrees: the Bradford MBA and TiasNimbas MBA.

In a further strategic shift, we (TiasNimbas and Tilburg University) have decided to become more independent and have more flexibility in designing our own programs. This move was initiated last year when we decided to terminate the involvement of Bradford in the Full Time MBA and we developed a new Full-time MBA jointly with faculty of Tilburg University. It is due to start in Tilburg in September 2011 and we expect 40 participants with a nice spread from different parts of the world.

Regarding the Financial Times Ranking, I want to point out that TiasNimbas is successfully ranked on its own (without Bradford) in other programs, especially in Executive Education. In the latest (2011) FT ranking of the executive education (combining open programs and custom program), TiasNimbas has the position no. 1 in the Netherlands, no. 20 in Europe, and no. 44 in the world.

Whereas almost all business schools try to be more international, it seems that TiasNimbas is concentrating itself on its home market.

We are aware of the fact that the partnership with a British University is a strong selling point in the German MBA market, but in the Netherlands it has never been of great importance to the candidates for the Part-Time MBA programs.

TiasNimbas is an all-round business school. We have a comprehensive portfolio with five MBAs, two International MSc in Business Administration, 15 specialized executive masters and many Executive Programs. Many of these programs are already very international or have international elements in it .The Full Time MBA program has participants from 25 countries. Our own faculty and staff include 14 different nationalities. Many of our company-specific programs have international participants and international locations. Indeed, we deliver in Europe, US, Asia, and Africa, directly or through alliances with other schools. Considering all of the above, we believe that terminating the Bonn MBA program will not make us less international.

So what are your strategic targets for the future?

TiasNimbas aspires to be recognized as an excellent business school in Europe, with an absolute top position in the Benelux, and wants to be known for its quality and personal approach. Our positioning will be linked to the further development of some key competence centers, such as Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Public-Private Partnerships, Real Estate. Our strategic objectives include revenue growth and increased international reputation.

In order to increase revenues, we have decided to strengthen our position in the Netherlands by offering additional executive programs and expanding geographically. Thus, we have decided to have a presence in Amsterdam. We have achieved the number one position in the Netherlands according to the Financial Times ranking of Executive Education Open Programs and want to retain and consolidate it. But at the same time we want to further internationalize our activities, increase our reputation internationally, and improve the position in the rankings. We want to be among the top 20 in Financial Times ranking European Business Schools, and we are well on our way to achieve this goal.


Foto Bärbel Schwertfeger, MBA Journal

Über Bärbel Schwertfeger

Bärbel Schwertfeger ist Diplom-Psychologin und seit 1985 als freie Journalistin im Bereich Management, Weiterbildung und Personalentwicklung tätig.