In London, on 24 November 1967, eight UK-based business school graduates (who had studied at the top Ivy League universities in the US) decided to launch the Business Graduates Association (BGA). Its mission was to improve the quality and number of graduate business schools, 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 intrapranenurs to push for innovation, and 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 £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 was considered the ‘flagship’ programme at business schools, and the BGA recognised the need for quality assurance across Europe. By the end of the 1980s, the organisation changed its name to Association of MBAs (AMBA), with a focus on accrediting MBA programmes at business schools. By 2020, AMBA had a community of more than 275 business schools with accredited MBA programmes, alongside 50,000 student and graduate members.
Over the course of 50 years, the business education industry has changed tremendously to meet employer demands. While the MBA 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 between hard and soft skills, innovative capabilities, and a mindset geared towards being more socially responsible, the organisation relaunched the BGA alongside AMBA, to focus on increasing business schools’ impact on students and communities. It also strived to play a more significant role in the professional and personal growth of students to produce a new generation of socially responsible leaders.