05 December 2022 03:15:02 IST

Overseas education with a Spanish flavour

Being a civil engineer and a woman, I was unable to get a job in Hyderabad. I worked in IT for seven years, but I always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur For that, the IE University is the best. They invest a lot in building an entrepreneurial mindset and guide you to have successful startups”, says Vasanthi Vadali, a one-year MBA student at IE University, Madrid.

Diego del Alcazar Benjumea, CEO of IE, was in Bengaluru recently to sign an MoU with Infosys. “We are very proud that IE has made this case study on Infosys and its digital transformation.  The MoU also opens the doors to greater collaboration with Infosys; for faculty, student, and executive exchange programs; a constant exchange of talent that will increase the interaction between the company and university in the future.”

IE is one of the leading universities in Spain with campuses in Madrid and Segovia. The B-school completes 50 years in 2023, and it ranked seventh worldwide for its Global MBA in 2022 and first worldwide for its online MBA (QS World University Rankings). It is also ranked 12th worldwide for its Executive MBA (Financial Times). It offers master’s and bachelor’s programmes in business, science and technology, legal studies, architecture and leadership, and talent development.

The great alternative

Over the past few years, it has been drawing Indian students looking for alternative options to the US or the UK or Canada to study abroad. It is considered a gateway to Europe.Being completely in English, it has an international appeal. “We established our office in Mumbai in 2005, and by this year, we will have had almost 1,000 Indian graduates from IE. There are currently 152 Indian students enrolled, mostly in our master’s programmes but this year we also have 50 students in the bachelors’ programme,” says del Alcazar.

Why choose IE? “Firstly, it’s ranked among the top schools in the world. Secondly, we have 140 nationalities, but we do not have more than 10 per cent of students belonging to any one nationality. The students also get to experience the lifestyle of Madrid. Lastly, our push for humanities and our focus on entrepreneurship and innovation is something you would not see in traditional universities worldwide.”

Talkien Shah, doing his second MBA, says, “I chose IE for its diversity. In the US or the UK, 80 per cent are local and the rest are international students. But here it is truly international. We are even assigned work groups to maintain diversity. So, no working with other Indian friends. It’s a healthy mix of perspectives and we learn to work together.”

Is studying in Europe less expensive than the US or the UK? The masters’ programme tuition fee is approx €85,000, which is comparable to other top universities in the world. But the undergraduate tuition fee is €25,000 per year which is lower than the US college fees. The online MBA costs €50,000. “IE has several scholarships based on merit; even full scholarships through the IE Foundation. Several entrepreneurs are financing scholarships in certain fields,” says del Alcazar. Vadali, Shah and Kabir Rajgarhia have all received scholarships from 15-40 per cent of their tuition fees.

Focus on innovation

“I was studying my bachelors in Vancouver, but I was not happy at all; it was very fragmented, Indians would hang out with only Indians.Also, IE tuition fee is significantly lower than in Vancouver. ,” says Rajgarhia, a dual bachelor’s degree student at IE.

A number of Indian alumni are in the technology or banking or consulting sector, with some holding positions of CEO, VP, Head of communications in companies such as Mirae Asset Venture, Hotstar, Star TV, and Spotify. A number of the alumni have founded their own companies such as ArrowHead Capital, 4Th Wheel Social Impact, LendBox, Proctur, and Sheroes Money.

About 73 per cent of the 75,000 plus alumni of IE are currently working in the European region. With entrepreneurship being one of the main focuses of IE, del Alcazar adds, “We already have nine Unicorns in the start-up field from IE alumni. Taking into account that Europe is not one of the continents that have a large number of start-ups like the US; this is a very successful number.”

Gateway to Europe

The social life in Madrid is also something students look forward to. Spain has a lot to offer; from culture and festivals, to access to travel the country and the rest of Europe. “Madrid is sunny like India, I feel so comfortable here,” says Vadali. On campus too there is always a hubbub of activity. Shah says, “There are a lot of networking events, so much bonding as well. We are having country specific get-togethers; where students will host and share food and culture of their own countries. I just hosted a Diwali dinner, where we explained the stories, decorated with flowers and lit lamps and of course feasted on Indian food.”

Rajgarhia says, “IE has 2-3 per week at least. They are all free and can be expert talks, competitions, panel discussions, career sessions or workshops. For example we had a UN officer visiting last year, and we just all chatted over coffee. IE gives us so many opportunities. It is up to us to grab it, and work for it, and learn what we can from it.”

IE is built around the four key pillars of entrepreneurship, innovation, diversity and the humanities. “It is important to study the consequences of technology in our lives. We need to become critical thinkers of how we use technology, so that it serves us and not the other way round,” clarifies del Alcazar.

So in an ever changing world, learning to innovate, while nurturing diversity and being rooted in the humanities, IE seems to be well prepared to take on the future. And going by the number of applications every year, the students seem to agree.

(The writer is a freelancer based in Chennai.)