On 8 November 1967, eight UK-based Business School graduates (who had studied at the top Ivy League universities in the US) launched the Business Graduates Association (BGA) in London. Its mission was to improve the quality of education received in graduate Business Schools, and the number of institutions operating around the world. The organisation also strived to encourage employers to recruit business graduates and promote the importance of business education.
The graduates understood that the future economy would require talented entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to push for innovation. This required a shift towards teaching the fundamental skills of finance, accounting, marketing, and management by universities.
Yet, in the Business Schools of the 1970s, ‘business’ and ‘management’ were taught by separate departments. In 1971, the average UK business graduate salary was £3,213 – less than half that of US counterparts. European graduates earned an average of £5,229.
Realising the significant gap, BGA launched an accreditation programme to uphold high Business School standards. Alongside this, the BGA produced its first Guide to Business Schools in 1972. By 1979, it was reviewing 80 institutions. Most were in the US, but there were 14 institutions in Israel, South Africa, Hong Kong, Iran and Ireland.
By the 1980s, the MBA association was considered the ‘flagship’ programme at Business Schools, and the BGA recognised the need for quality assurance across Europe. The organisation changed its name to the Association of MBAs (AMBA) towards the end of the 1980s, with a focus on accrediting MBA programmes at Business Schools. By 2017, AMBA had a community of 260 Business Schools with accredited MBA programmes, alongside 28,000 student and graduate members.
Over the course of 50 years, the business education industry has changed tremendously to meet employer demands. While the international MBA association still plays an important role at Business Schools, they represent a small part of a Business School’s offering in today’s world.
With employers increasingly asking for business graduates who possess a balance of hard and soft skills, innovative capabilities, and a mindset geared towards being more socially responsible, the organisation relaunched the Business Graduates Association alongside AMBA. Their focus now is to increase Business Schools’ impact on MBA students, graduates and communities and playing a more significant role in the professional and personal growth of MBA students and graduates to produce a new generation of socially responsible leaders.