As ESADE moves into a shiny new campus, Andrew Pollen says that the school shouldn't see it is a cure-all
WE ARE moving. Adiós to ESADE's cramped and ageing conditions in Barcelona's Pedralbes neighborhood; Bienvenidos to sparkling new classrooms and meeting spaces at the Creapolis campus in Sant Cugat, a sleeper town outside of Barcelona.
The move has certain advantages beyond the new space. Business clubs and recruiting will benefit from being with other international Masters programmes, which are already located in Sant Cugat. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of the E-Garage, a new space designed to allow students the resources and environment to start new business ideas. And although it feels like being in the sticks, Creapolis is, in fact, closer to many amenities such as restaurants, a cinema, and a gym than the Barcelona campus.
But Sant Cugat is not Barcelona, a fact summed up in this student spoof. To get to the campus, we must take a 20 minute train ride from the city centre and then walk 15 minutes more. Include a buffer for getting to the train station and the full journey adds an extra 20-30 minutes to most students' commutes. The train also costs significantly more than a bus or metro trip within Barcelona. ESADE says it may offer new or subsidised transportation to mitigate these effects.
While I am willing to undertake a longer commute in exchange for better facilities, I am anxious to see whether certain infrastructure issues—the lack of an online room-reservation system, the poor IT support for Mac users—will truly be remedied in Sant Cugat. I am also waiting for the school to explain how it will handle the interaction between students and Creapolis's corporate tenants.
The school was a bit spooked by a big fall in this year's Financial Times ranking, and perhaps sees moving into a new building as a response to this. The cynical view is that it solves a building occupancy problem rather than one of MBA competitiveness.
I'm not suggesting the move is bad; the point is it is not a cure-all. Students are keen for tweaks to the curriculum, for instance. Although the school created a special finance module, there is more work to be done on this. We have also long demanded a public teacher-evaluation platform to improve course selection. My worry is that the move becomes so overwhelming that little progress is made on other fronts. Far from rejecting change, my classmates and I are clamouring for more of it.