Trump, Brexit & Co.: Why studying for an MBA degree in Austria is the right alternative

March 14, 2018

5 reasons for an MBA in Austria

The global MBA market is in a state of flux: Great Britain's decision to leave the EU and Donald Trump's election as US president are not the only events showing the strong direct influence of politics on the program choices of prospective MBA students. In China, the Executive MBA market has plummeted by more than 50% following the introduction of compulsory entrance tests also for part-time programs. The overall uncertainty in traditionally strong MBA markets is not the only reason why international, as well as national, would-be MBA students are increasingly looking to Austria as a possible place to study. Prof. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, explores the five main reasons why those interested in earning an MBA degree should enroll in a program in Austria.

Donald Trump holds a speech
Trump, Brexit & Co: politics have a strong influence on the MBA markets and therefore on business schools as well. Photo © CC0 Licence

Trump, Brexit and China

According to a study by the General Management Admission Council (GMAC), the increasingly stringent entry requirements in the USA and in Great Britain have had considerable repercussions on the MBA markets there: More than 50% of American business schools report a drop in the number of applicants.

As for Great Britain, the situation is similar: 52% of the surveyed would-be MBA students from outside Great Britain said they would not apply for an MBA program in Great Britain given that the prospects of obtaining residence and work permits had deteriorated as a result of the Brexit vote.

Moreover, the Executive MBA market in China has plummeted by more than 50% following the government's decision to require all prospective Executive MBA students to take entrance tests. (In the past, only applicants for full-time programs, who are considerably younger, had to take them.)

Five reasons why studying for an MBA degree in Austria is a good idea

Although Austrian MBA programs compare very favorably with their international competitors, they were less popular among prospective MBA students in the past than other programs of similar quality on the global market. “Undeservedly so,” says Prof. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, with conviction: “Because in terms of quality, internationality and job-market opportunities, some Austrian MBA programs are in no way inferior to the major programs of the international competition- quite the contrary, they offer students some advantages that are hard to find elsewhere.”

1. Top quality by international standards

Two criteria play a fundamental role when it comes to making the right MBA choice as they are important, unbiased indicators of a program's quality: international accreditations and rankings. Here too some Austrian providers are on par with their international competitors because they have been accredited by one - or several - of the leading international accreditation agencies, AACSB, AMBA or EQUIS, or by FIBAA, a German agency. In addition, some Austrian programs are equal to their international competitors because they have achieved excellent results in national and international rankings.

Prof. Barbara Stöttinger

  • Dean of the WU Executive Academy

At the WU Executive Academy, we are even fortunate enough to hold a ‘triple accreditation’, i.e. AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS. This is a rare privilege currently enjoyed by only 86 business schools in the world. Moreover, for almost 10 years, our MBA programs have been among the world's top 100 in the renowned Financial Times Executive MBA ranking. Many of our students have chosen us because of these two hallmarks of excellence.

2. Strong international focus

The stronger an MBA program's international orientation, the better it reflects the globalized, culturally diverse and fast-moving environment that managers have to cope with in the real world. Three aspects are particularly important in this context: student diversity in terms of backgrounds, lecturers from around the globe and international residencies. In recent years, many Austrian providers have gradually expanded their portfolios of English-language MBA programs in order to attract even more international students.

“We make a conscious effort to take things one step further: Nowadays, more than 60% of our students come from abroad. In some programs, we even have 100% participants from countries outside of Austria. Right now, there are applicants from over 25 nations for the next Global Executive MBA, which will start in April 2018. Over half the faculty members come from our 240+ partner universities and leading businesses from around the globe. In addition to that, we organize study trips to the USA, South America and Asia for our students,” says Prof. Stöttinger.

3. Excellent value for money

It is not uncommon for reputable European MBA programs to carry hefty price tags. According to a recent study, prices vary significantly: Studying for an Executive MBA degree, for instance, costs €95,000 at London Business School, €91,000 at IMD in Lausanne and €61,000, which is still a lot, at IE Business School. In Austria, average prices are much lower. Those who take a closer look will soon realize that in the Alpine republic top programs can be attended for considerably less money: “The fact that we do offer really excellent value for money is something that we need not point out to applicants during interviews; they quickly find this out for themselves. The prices of our MBA programs range from €15,500 to €49,000. We have many years of experience, enabling us to offer participants the very things that make for top-class training - at very attractive prices. The quality of our students and our program fees reflect this quite clearly,” explains Prof. Stöttinger.

4. Working and living in Austria with the Red-White-Red Card

After having graduated from an MBA program in Austria, third-country nationals (i.e. citizens of non-EU member states) can apply for a Red-White-Red Card. Following an individual verification that the applicant meets all the necessary requirements (adequate means of subsistence, locally customary accommodation, health insurance coverage, etc.) he or she will be issued the card, which is generally valid for 24 months and entitles the holder to live in Austria and work for a specific employer. For all the details, go to

Picture of the Hofburg in Vienna
To live and work in Austria after your MBA is not only attractive because of the many international companies, but also because of the high quality of living.

5. In the heart of Europe, safe and secure, livable

Its excellent geographical location in the heart of Europe makes Austria an attractive hub or bridgehead for many multinational businesses and organizations: More than 1,200 international players such as Henkel, Siemens, JVC or Beiersdorf have their CEE headquarters in the country, and Vienna is home to some of the most important international organizations, including UNO, UNIDO, IAEA or OPEC.

Apart from the strong economic environment, the fact that Vienna is less than four hours away from Moscow, Tehran, Lisbon or Reykjavík is also valued by many prospective MBA students.

“Incidentally,” concludes Prof. Stöttinger, “in 2018 Vienna topped the renowned Mercer ‘Quality of living’ ranking of the world's most livable cities for the ninth time in a row. A politically and socially safe and secure environment, excellent health care and a wealth of cultural and tourist attractions are other factors influencing prospective MBA students in their program choices.”

In addition to these five arguments in favor of an MBA in Austria, you can find more good reasons why the WU Executive Academy is the right business school for you here.

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