The University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School is leading the way in recruiting students from Africa. While ,on average, only 2% of full-time MBA students in international programmes are from Africa – 11% of this year’s Oxford MBA class hails from the continent. What’s more – students from Africa were over-represented on the Dean’s list for outstanding academic merit last year. These are exceptional candidates. So how did they do it?
The short answer – commitment, hard work and a lot of travel. A pledge was made by Oxford Saïd’s Dean, Professor Peter Tufano at the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa to have 10% of their MBA students from the African continent by 2018. So why is Oxford Said committed to having such a strong representation of African students on their programme? Dean Tufano explains “Our African students provide direct insight into a range of exciting emerging economies that will become increasingly influential in the global marketplace. By increasing our efforts to support more African students onto our MBA programme they, and our African alumni, become a powerful force in educating our community about the opportunities on the continent.”
Tammy Brophy, who leads on the Africa initative at Oxford Said details how they achieved this goal, “We have achieved this by actively encouraging talented individuals from across Africa to have the self-assurance to apply for a rigorous programme at Oxford. Frequent School-led information and recruitment events, including one-to-one support sessions, are hosted in many African countries by faculty and senior School leaders – allowing us to connect with and support talented individuals.”
Tammy Brophy is the school’s dedicated recruitment manager for Africa. She is an advocate for greater levels of investment into talent from across Africa. Brophy’s strategy is to grow the pool of applicants rather than just getting a bigger share of current GMAT test takers. The school is proactive about increasing access for quality candidates who may not have considered doing an MBA. “We have implemented additional support for our African candidates such as providing funded GMAT preparation courses, profile assessments, alumni mentoring and application guidance to ensure that we, as a Business School community, provide all African candidates the opportunity to benefit from a world-class business education, regardless of their circumstance.”
The school also recognises that funding an international MBA from Africa is tricky. Every year, Dean Peter Tufano and his wife Mary Jeanne Tufano personally fund the Dean’s Africa Scholarship.. Roughly 60% of their African MBA students received a scholarship to studying their MBA’s at Oxford this year, but they recognize that funding is just one more barrier that African students face, so Oxford Said continues to work with organsiations to source more funding opportunities. Unlike many international schools, Oxford’s MBA programme gives students the opportunity to do electives on business in Africa during their MBA. There are African student-led clubs, and a hugely successful Oxford Business Forum Africa that brings together thought-leaders from across the continent to convene in Oxford every year to create meaningful networks and opportunities within Africa for their students and alumni. Having students from Africa, represented and participating in class brings new perspectives to the programme, and continues to have an impact for when their alumni return to the continent.
“The aim is to be a part of the positive change in the region while educating the whole of the student body about Africa’s intellectual wealth and economic potential.” Says Dean Tufano.
Students from Africa can learn from and contribute to the diversity of a truly global classroom environment.