While ESCP Europe, founded in Paris in 1819, is the oldest business school in the world, that hasn't kept it from redefining what business education should be in the 21st century.
“The founders of the school wanted to create a place where cutting edge research could meet real-world education,” says Professor Benjamin Voyer, undergraduate academic director at the school.
“We blend management, liberal arts, and humanities, while not just giving knowledge but broadening horizons as well.”
And for students looking for a truly international Bachelor’s education, it’s life-changing.
“I think the most valuable asset I could have in life is having travelled and speaking different languages. And that’s what this school allows me to do,” says Noa Lachkar, a first-year student of the school’s prestigious Bachelor in Management (BSc) degree.
The three-year degree requires students to study at a different campus each year: London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, or Turin. Depending on their campus of study students can study either in English or in both in English and in the local language. Students also take classes in the language of the country they are studying in - gaining language skills which will set them apart as graduates on the international market.
“Living the language is an integral part of the education,” Professor Voyer explains. “Language isn’t just communication; it’s a way of understanding another person’s point of view and engaging with another culture. It’s fundamental.”
For students like Noa, it’s about continuing and developing a mindset she already has.
“I was born in Paris, my mother is Israeli, and I grew up in Belgium,” she says. “And now in London I’m studying Spanish. Many of the students here already speak three languages, and then we get to study additional languages here.”
Maximilian Muennighoff, a German student currently studying in London, says exposure to languages is one of his favourite things about ESCP Europe.
“I was born in Boston but I have lived my whole life in Munich,” he tells The Local. “And the idea of a personal, intercultural programme that connects people from all around the world, lets you go to new countries and learn new languages – it seemed right to me.”
This autumn Noa and Maximilian will be moving to Paris for their second year of studies. ESCP Europe has two campuses in the city, one on the avenue de la République in the east of Paris, and one near Montparnasse dedicated to graduate studies. Noa and Maximilian will be among the first undergraduates given the opportunity to study at the historic République campus.
Noa is fluent in French and Maximilian already speaks some French – but starting over in a new city is still intimidating.
“At first it’s overwhelming, moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone,” Maximilian confesses. “But when you start exploring the city on your own, you discover things tourists never see.”
“After you graduate from school, say ten years down the line, you don’t remember absolutely all the facts and technical knowledge,” he explains. “What you do remember is the experience you had and the people you were with.”
It’ still a rigorous programme. In the first year alone students have classes in business, international relations, mathematics, economics, computer skills, psychology, accounting, law, and rhetoric.
“We educate students in all possible fields of management; it’s a broad spectrum,” Voyer explains. “It’s a Bachelor of Science degree so they do mathematics as well – data science management is very popular at the moment. We want to make sure they get enough of a qualitative background to pursue a field in the scientific area if they choose.”
But after school and after exams, the students are busy making meaningful connections.
“None of us have family here, but we quickly become each other’s family,” says Noa. “The connections I have with the other students are great.”
“Student life can be hard sometimes, especially during exams, but every day there is something social to do,” Max agrees. “Like an evening out or an international pillow fight.”
Indeed, an education at ESCP Europe doesn’t just give students what they need to become the business leaders of tomorrow – it’s also teaches them invaluable life lessons.
“Having to adapt to a new country and a new campus each year – that type of experience teaches you a lot about life and really shapes how you see the world. That really creates an added value, even more than all the knowledge,” Professor Voyer says.
And Max adds that for many students, it’s also a chance to reinvent yourself.
“Going to three new cities, for three years, you get the chance to become something else, to become someone you always wanted to be,” he says. “You can move beyond your past self. It’s a new start.”
This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by ESCP Europe.