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Going for global leadership in business education

Some €65 million to be invested over the next five years in delivering a strategic plan

UCD College of Business is to invest €65 million over the next five years in delivering a strategic plan which will establish it as a global leader in business education and research which consistently meets the highest international quality standards and is recognised as one of the world’s top 50 business schools.

"We have been ranked in the top 100 business schools in the world for the past 15 years," says Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, UCD College of Business dean. "We have a great student body, we have great staff and we have a fantastic foundation to build on. We are great now but we feel we can do better. We need to differentiate ourselves and show why students from Boston, Beijing, Berlin, or Ballyfermot could come to study here at UCD. Our students have to compete with the very best in the world when they graduate, we need to do the same. With the support of the university we are committed to realising our vision to look and feel like a global top 50 business school, leveraging the strengths of a cosmopolitan capital city with an international edge."

The UCD College of Business is made up of four elements. The Lochlann Quinn School of Business offers undergraduate courses, including the Bachelor of Commerce, BComm International, the BSc in Economics and Finance, BSc in Business Analytics and more, to approximately 1,900 students per year.

The Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School offers postgraduate courses, including the MBA and a wide range of MSc's in business, to approximately 1,300 students per year.


The Smurfit Executive Development offers a wide range of open enrolment and customised programmes to approximately 1,600 participants per year.

The Business International Campus portfolio provides UCD College of Business undergraduate and graduate programmes on partner campuses in Singapore, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka. These programmes attract over 4,700 students per year.

The ambitious new strategy covers the whole college. “Our MSc in International Management is ranked at 22 in the world, the MSc in Finance is number 36, our MBA programme has been ranked 72nd, while our Executive Development Programme is in the top 70,” says Ó hÓgartaigh. “We want all of our programmes to be in the top 50.”

He is quick to point out that it is not simply about the rankings, however. “Rankings are not an end in themselves”, he says. “They are a useful benchmark for us to measure ourselves against but being seen as a top international business school is more than just about a ranking. We want people to know that when they come here they will receive a top class experience on a par with anything they can find anywhere else in the world.”

Key to this is the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School’s membership of the Community of European Management Schools (CEMS). This is an alliance of 30 of the world’s leading business schools and 60 multinational companies. The Smurfit School represents Ireland in this community. In addition, UCD College of Business is a member of the prestigious Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) which comprises 25 of the world’s leading business schools including Yale School of Management, London School of Economics, and INSEAD (France and Singapore).

“Being a member of these organisations is very important to us as it helps us benchmark ourselves against the very best in the world. The deans of the member schools meet three or four times a year and this is also very important as it means that we remain outward facing in what we are trying to achieve and keep pace with international developments.”

Building on existing strengths is central to the strategy. “We have to look at what we are good at already,” Ó hÓgartaigh explains. “There are three key areas of focus for us there. In financial services we are already a world leader in areas like aviation finance and operational risk management and we want to develop that still further. In food and retail we are building on Ireland’s acknowledged strengths in those areas by working with organisations like Bord Bia as well as the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science in the development of programmes like the MSc in Food Business Strategy.”

The new wave of disruptive technologies is also high on the agenda. “We have established a new chair in business analytics and have created a critical mass in this area,” he says. “The new faculty appointments have resulted in UCD Business becoming a leader in Ireland, and being ranked number one globally in advanced analytics methods inspired by nature.”

The Smurfit School MSc in Business Analytics was the very first programme of its kind anywhere. "I remember talking to various stakeholders about this some years ago and proudly telling Barry O'Leary, who was IDA Ireland ceo at the time, that we had 40 people studying analytics here," Ó hÓgartaigh recalls. "But he responded by saying that we need to put two zeros after that number if we were to meet future demand. As a result, with the support of Icon we have built our analytics capability since then. It is hugely important for Ireland as it has applications across healthcare, finance, the food industry and just about every business sector."

These are just a few of the initiatives which will combine to maintain the UCD College of Business’s position at the forefront of international business education.

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is a contributor to The Irish Times