This year marked the start of our celebrations of 100 years of teaching business at Edinburgh.
We kicked off with a visit from University Chancellor HRH the Princess Royal, who met students and researchers to discuss our latest initiatives.
We held gatherings of graduates around the world and we've been humbled by the stories they've given us of their experience here and their ongoing impact in the world. We dressed our building in celebration, including alumni names on our entrance steps—something that sparked a flurry of interest on social media.
The 100 year celebrations will continue as we head towards the anniversary of our first graduate, Margaret Stevenson Miller, who achieved her accounting degree in the summer of 1920.
Ranking and Accreditation
2019 brought good news in terms of how we're ranked and accredited by outside bodies. Our MBA improved its standing in The Economist's 'Which MBA' rankings, and our MSc in Management maintained its UK top ten position in the FT rankings.
Added to that, our accreditation from global body AACSB—which looks for impact and innovation—was extended, ensuring we continue to have a widely recognised hallmark of quality.
Research That Matters
Our academic research, including collaborations with industry and public bodies, continued to bear fruit.
For example, we worked with the charity Young Money on a follow-up study which showed the positive legacy of training teachers to deliver financial education for school leavers.
We worked with construction industry partners on the development of a carbon calculator to help assess the climate change impact of big infrastructure projects.
In that green vein, our research also showed how consumers are willing to pay for sustainable brands, and we developed a framework for agriculture to encourage practices which protect soil and water.
Our survey of global credit experts sparked a discussion about the move toward Open Banking, and we published analysis showing that ignoring gender in credit scoring decisions has a negative effect on women.
On a lighter note, we discovered that teachers who use smileys and other emoticons to give feedback to students enjoy a better relationship. 🙂
A Forum for Ideas
2019 was a big year for us as organisers and hosts of three global gatherings: the Credit Scoring and Credit Control Conference, the Academy of Marketing Science world congress, and EGOS—the European Group for Organisational Studies. The EGOS conference was the biggest-ever organised and hosted by the University of Edinburgh, drawing 2,500 academics from around the world to discuss the big public policy issues of our time.
We also brought together experts from academia and business to inspire our students to try their hand at new ventures, with our incredibly popular #makeyourmark social enterprise challenge (returning in February 2020) and our Startup Festival.
Connecting Students with Real-world Insights
Bringing in experts and pioneers from different backgrounds to inspire our students is something we continued to do in 2019, from Snag Tights founder Brie Read on the role of outside investment to former fashion editor Sara McCorquodale on the rise of social media influencers. We also heard from chartered banking boss Simon Thompson on the greening of finance, and endurance athletes Charlie Guest and Jasmin Paris on lessons for success in life.
On top of that, our determination to give our undergraduates the best start to their university life was recognised as our first year course Global Challenges for Business was given an 'Ideas Worth Teaching' Award by the Aspen Institute. Our revamped approach to first-year learning sees students develop critical thinking skills and grapple with the social, environmental, and technological disruptions being faced by organisations in the real world.
Our Own Expertise
Throughout the year we continued to offer our own expert insights, appearing in the press, on the radio, and on social media. We offered informed views on everything from startup ecosystems and longer working lives to executive pay and the troubles of the automotive industry.
We also sponsored the first-ever age inclusive employer award at a major Scottish event, while being recognised for our own role in helping Edinburgh develop a FinTech focus. Part of that focus has been the launch of a FinTech PhD programme with business, and we tailored this year's Executive Education programme for non-executive directors to reflect Edinburgh's desire to become the data capital of Europe.
Along the way, we've seen our students inspired to set up social and environmental ventures such as a textbook sharing platform, and shared the joy as they won industry awards. We welcomed an MBA student to the first LGBT+ postgraduate scholarship in Scotland, in collaboration with Somewhere, a social enterprise that aims to break down the barriers to LGBT+ inclusion in business.
We also launched the UK's first MicroMasters in Predictive Analytics. To date, over 4,000 learners have signed up, a clear indication of the way learning is developing in the online age.
In short, it's been a busy 2019! Roll on 2020...
Wendy Loretto is Dean of the Business School and Professor of Organisational Behaviour.