French School of Commerce: the fate of the four schools since their separation

In July 2014, the ax falls: France’s Business School (FBS) is a failure, it disappears in 2015. The school, which wanted to recruit its students differently, was not convinced.

Françoise Roudier, now general manager of ESC Clermont, lived the FBS adventure. This school offered “a new model in the landscape of the time, with recruitment inspired by companies. But without the strength of joint competitions, this company, which was not yet known, experienced a commercial failure“, She sums up.

Exhausted, the four partners regained their independence in 2015 and had to regain their legitimacy. But in between loss of master’s degree for certain schools, plunge admissions and financial problems: the difficulties accumulate.

French School of Commerce: final closing on 30 April

Escem is one of the schools that came most weakened out of this failure. The school is not regaining its master’s degree for its PGE and is entering a period of turbulence.

Taken over in 2016 by the Sup de Co La Rochelle group (now Excelia) and the GES network, the school, which offers two targeted bachelor’s degrees in Tours and Orléans, aims to rebuild a PGE in 2017. However,the miracle will not take place. “Relaunching the EMP required too much investment. Escem could hardly find an economic model alone, “said Bruno Neil, CEO of Excelia since 2017.

In addition, the association formed between the GES network and Excelia was dissolved at the end of May 2020. On the issue, financial difficulties and “a strong divergence of strategic vision for the two partners”, Excelia specifies.

Excelia Group: a new strategic plan to “rethink the future”

Escem disappears in Excelia: another wind?

It is in November 2020 that FBS ‘ex-school lives its last moment: Excelia announces that it will only take over Escem, whose brand no longer exists, at the start of the school year 2021. For Bruno Neil, some “alumni will be frustrated by this. But we can see Excelia as the group that saved Escem. Without this takeover, the school would have disappeared”.

For Julien Dargaisse, Chair of Ex-Escem Alumni, “this merger is good news for us and for the employees, which now has a clear framework, with a single captain on board. As for the students, their course will be more valuable. “

In fact, the group is committed to guaranteeing the 550 students the continuity of teaching until they graduate, especially through its recognized programs. Excelia is now established on three campuses and will open its bachelor’s company in Tours and Orléans at the beginning of the academic year 2021. Objectives: give “a boost” to its strategyexplains Bruno Neil.

Business schools: courses that offer a targeted diploma recognized by students

For ESC Amiens, the story begins in the same way: with loss of his master’s degree then the closure of PGE, the school is very affected, in 2015. “We have rebuilt the school on its state-approved bachelor’s degree, an unaffected program,” describes Yann Tournesac, general manager of Amiens Business School, recruited just after graduating from FBS.

The growth of the workforce, especially of apprentices, allows “self-financing “by the Committee. The school now has a total of almost 500 students and aims for 800 students by the end of 2023.

ESC Amiens wants to get back in the game

The school has also joined its seven teacher-researcher research activity around the concept of risk management with the line of sight: the recapture of the master’s degree.

The Grande Ecole course, which reopened in 2016, has been targeted by the state since the end of 2019. “What is missing between the visa and the grade is research. We meet almost all the criteria, but we still need to consolidate our curriculumto be entitled to the grade in the short term ”, the director assesses.

Until at least 2024, the school positions itself as a local business schoolwhich recruits 80% of Picardy students and wants to train managers for companies in the local economic area.

International accreditations: a holy grail for business schools?

ESC Clermont had several cards in its game in 2015, but not everything was decided in advance. If the school regains its master’s degree, “we had to be very agile because we came out of a crisis“, Françoise Roudier analyzes today.

“With this unexpected parentheses, we had to completely rethink our strategy, innovate and leverage our roots, our values ​​and our assets. By trusting our good reputation and choosing an offensive strategy, we took up the challenge “, the director clarifies.

In 2016, still shaken, the school reached its smallest group of studentsbut other lights turned green.

ESC Clermont, stronger than before?

ESC Clermont quickly manages to join the Conference of Grandes Ecoles (CGE). And in 2016, two major milestones were reached : The school achieves renewal of the AACSB accreditation for five years, and the Grande Ecole program can again, recruit through BCE post-preparatory competition.

On that date, “we had found our basic principles for a business school: the master’s degree, the AACSB and the ECB. We were then able to implement a strategic plan,” states Françoise Roudier. The school then obtained the two accreditations it lacked: Epas, in 2019, for its bachelor’s degree and AMBA, for the master’s degree, in 2020.

This dynamic attracts and PGE returns to its workforce before FBS from 2016. The school is also recruiting more people for its bachelor’s program and is dependent on international development. “We worked hard on the offering of our programs, the heart of our business.”

With a deficit in 2015, the school is in balance in 2019–2020, especially thanks to ongoing training and “unwavering support” from CCI, companies and graduates. A SAS, created in 2019, gives it “additional credibility”.

Following a failed merger, ESC Clermont gradually takes its head out of the water

Like ESC Clermont, Brest Business School was able to quickly regain its character, reintegrate the CGE and recruit from the ECB. But its reconstruction goes through a single path.

In 2015, BBS again became an association managed by the CCI of Brest, with the Brittany region. But from 2016, it is financially weakened and welcomes a new player in its leadership in 2016: the Chinese group Weidong Cloud Education, while the Brittany region is retreating. This admission makes Brest BS the first French-Chinese school in France.

Dai Shen, the former director of FBS ‘international campuses, has been working for a rapprochement with Weidong. Director of the school since 2017, he explains this “very friendly” operation made it possible to organize “good governance” : “Weidong allows broadcasting of programs and provides a market for continuing education, and CCI provides access to the local economic substance for work-study contracts”.

Three development areas that depend on significant equity

In the bride’s basket, Weidong is contributing 7 million euros for 2016-2020. And if the principal clarifies that the school still has a deficit, he hopes for a return to a positive balance “this year or next year”.

Since 2017, the school has been addicted the digitization of programs and learning, which sometimes reaches “70% of M2 push”, says Dai Shen. Above all, it is deployed internationally: BBS has 50% international (especially through partnerships in Morocco) and develops continuing education in China.

But not everything is over yet. “Academically, the school has surpassed its previous level“Dai Shen thinks,” but we must attract more students outside the regional pool ”because the school lacks post-preparatory graduates.

What’s left of France’s trade school?
The former partners almost all agree: nothing. Neither in pedagogy nor in recruitment methods. The connections between the four schools are not very strong and if the heads of establishment cross paths in the authorities and may have established “friendly ties”, no privileged partnership is invoked.

“In 2014, each school tried to return to the market with its own management and team. In Clermont, FBS had an impact until 2017. Since then, neither the students nor the companies have talked to us about it. The page has turned “, notes Françoise Roudier.” FBS is over and forgotten “, says Yann Tournesac from ESC Amiens.

One voice is different, the one from Dai Shen. “PGE from Brest Business School was strongly inspired by what was created by FBS, with a strong international dimension, learning, strengthened courses in entrepreneurship and innovation. If this project was a work accident, do not think that everything was negative“.

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