University of St.Gallen

University of St.Gallen boosts MBA student engagement, with help from the Financial Times


The challenge

St.Gallen wanted to engage MBA students more effectively with global current events and macro-economic issues, in an online setting using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

The solution

Access to FT.com’s annotation tool MBA Newslines enables professors to annotate articles and stream them directly to students via multiple social media platforms.

The benefits

MBA Newslines saves professors’ time and encourages students to be more involved in class discussion, linking theory to real-world examples.


International learning experience

The University of St.Gallen in Switzerland is considered one of the leading business schools in Europe. It was the rst public university in German-speaking Europe to receive Equis accreditation, and it is also AACSB-accredited.

The St.Gallen MBA offers a top-class international experience, with course content drawn from theory and real-world business, an internationally-mobile faculty and a very diverse student body. Its aim is to develop competent, entrepreneurial, globally-oriented and socially- responsible managers who can master tomorrow’s challenges.

Information dissemination

The Financial Times newspaper had been delivered to the school for some time. However, it had recently become required course reading, rather than optional. It was therefore more important than ever to ensure that every student had access to the FT’s trusted news, analysis and comment on business developments and challenges worldwide.

In addition, the MBA programme had recently introduced a new element: the Learning Assessment Week (LAW). During this week the students take a 90-minute spoken exam on a range of business and management topics covered during the core subjects of the MBA. Students were given one of a series of in-depth case studies developed from Financial Times articles and were then examined by a panel made up of professors from peer MBA Schools and experts from business. They then received compressive feedback assessing their strengths and weaknesses from an employment and academic viewpoint.

The introduction of LAW and the FT-based case studies made it increasingly critical for students to follow business developments closely and to have a deep understanding of the issues. It was therefore essential to increase students’ participation in and engagement with the MBA Newslines service.

Partnering with the FT

With almost 600 journalists around the world, the FT is able to offer an unmatched global perspective on business, nance and politics, providing trusted news, analysis and comment 24 hours a day. Bringing business subjects to life, it enables business school students to connect current events with course principles and gives them current, real-world material for their assignments.

Via an education licence, St.Gallen MBA students were given access to this valuable intelligence, including MBA Newslines – a digital learning tool that allows MBA students to annotate FT articles, submit comments and share them with their own class and other schools. “The FT Education service is a great way to disseminate the FT’s excellent business news and insight to all our students,” said Professor Simon Evenett, Academic Director of the St.Gallen MBA programmes. “In particular, MBA Newslines is a quick way for me to steer students towards useful articles, show why they’re important and get students thinking.”

The recent introduction of the Learning Assessment Week has made the FT service even more essential. Sixteen FT articles were turned into case studies, each on a different company, country or macro-economic issue, and students were asked to analyse them to show how well they understood the course content and the topics under discussion. “Every jury member commented on the excellent preparation of the LAW,” said Professor Evenett. “The use and preparation of contemporary materials – in particular, the Financial Times — was seen as particularly valuable.”

LAW panellist David Huber, Senior HR Relationship Manager at HSBC, concurs. “The concept of the Learning Assessment Week and the use of FT articles as case studies are both great ideas as it exposes the students which generates situations that are very close to reality,” he says. “Articles ensure that they do not react upon arti cial cases but work on real-life examples. Also, articles are mostly subject to interpretation and therefore allow students to show their flexibility and creativity when engaging them in discussions. It also makes quite obvious a student’s strength and weaknesses.”

Creating a real-life MBA programme

The FT immerses students in the real world of business and management, offering stimulating coverage of core business issues and the latest trends in management thinking and practice. With St.Gallen’s FT Education licence, its MBA students gained full access to:

  • The definitive source of news and analysis of global business, economics, nance and politics
  • Expert analysis of companies’ strategies, tactics takeovers, triumphs and disasters
  • Learning tools such as MBA Newslines, Clippings, email briefings, plus the FT’s searchable 7-year archive for quick and easy research
  • Special in-depth reports on topics from corporate governance and risk management to doing business in specific countries
  • Dedicated FT.com sections on relevant areas such as international business, economics and brics
  • A wide range of digital features, from video interviews to interactive blogs, financial data and mobile/tablet access

Boosting engagement with social media

Professor Evenett wanted to encourage students to be more involved with MBA Newslines so that they would make full use of it. He set up a Twitter account which was linked to the university’s Facebook page, its website and its student blogs, and also to the Professor’s own LinkedIn page. After annotating an article he tweets about it, and these tweets are automatically fed into the other social media.

This saves time for both the professor and his students, who can get updates every time he tweets rather than having to log into FT.com and search for him. “Some students have even switched from their company subscription of FT.com to the university subscription, in order to see the annotations,” says Professor Evenett. “It’s a very powerful and useful tool. “

St.Gallen plans to increase student engagement further by grouping articles according to their relevant course, making it quick and easy for students and staff to nd what they need. Professor Evenett says, “I think this will lead to more of our professors using the annotations tool, and to more students interacting with it.”

Unbeatable career preparation

The FT’s global perspective and unrivalled insight into business gives students a real advantage in their classwork, coursework and exams. But it also gives them a head start in the real world of global business, providing the experience and insight they need to navigate cross-cultural working environments and to shine in job interviews. During Learning Assessment Week, St.Gallen uses FT content to help students transfer the theories they have learned to an applied, integrative general management approach, giving them a more in-depth preparation for a successful entry into the business world.

As MBA student Elitsa Slaneva says, "I have always been a devoted FT reader due to its global and multi-industry perspective. Professor Evenett`s decision to integrate it into the curriculum here at the HSG-MBA has allowed me to more clearly see the link between theory and practice. Furthermore, this new initiative has taught me to seek interconnectedness among different disciplines – strategy, nance, operations, marketing – when making business decisions. I believe this ability, developed with the help of the FT MBA Newslines, will set our MBA class apart in meetings with employers."