What is the recipe of University of St.Gallen to make its continuous success?

The University of St.Gallen (HSG) was founded as a business academy in 1898 and is nowadays a School of Management, Economics, Law, Social Sciences and International Affairs. The practice-oriented approach and integrative view have characterized the education we offer since those early days.

In 2001, we introduced Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses across the board and fundamentally reformed the education we offer. Since then, we no longer focus just on professional training but also on character building. At our university, you can complete studies at Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. level. The close integration of studies, further education and research is important to us.

Furthermore we have close to 200 international partner universities. Our students have the option to gain a double degree in cooperation with other universities or to spend an exchange term abroad.

Our close link to top corporates, but also our entrepreneurship center with a founders’ garage and incubator allows us not only to enrich the students experience but also to provide high-class career services and services for students engaged in startups. And our more than 30 research institutes provide an inspiring ecosystem for frontend research.

This is just a few reasons why we are in the fortunate position to be one of Europe’s leading business universities for education and research. Rankings, such as the Financial Times ranking, help to underline this position.

What mega-trends are you currently working on at the forefront?

“Strengthening strengths” is the motto of the University of St.Gallen when it comes to being perceived as one of Europe’s leading business universities in the future, too, and to advance to a top position in global research in selected fields. Therefore we launched in 2014 a Global Center for Customer Insight, which tries to understand purchasing decicisions and purchase behavior. And we founded a Global Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, which wants to cover the entire corporate cycle from start-up to business model development and innovation and corporate succession and corporate exit.

In order to meet the challenge oft he digitalization, the HSG is pursuing a strategy in several steps. In a pilot project, the certificate programme in Data Science Fundamentals for an initial 60 undergraduates has been launched in autumn 2017. From 2018/2019 onwards, four new chairs in the field of information science will secure complementary methodological competence (software, algorithms, databases, artificial intelligences) in research, as well as teaching capacities. From 2019, a new chair of Technology Studies will be established to deal with the social and cultural questions and consequences of digital change. In addition, we are considering to establish a major that combines IT with business. In its maximum configuration, the programme would extend to approx. 100 undergraduates and about 50 students at the Master’s Level. The establishment of a major with an additional four or five chairs will have to be assessed by politicians. If they should grant funds for the purpose, this might result in a separate School in the long term.

Currently, we are also working on a Joint Medical Master with the University of Zurich. The Bachelor’s programme started this autumn in Zurich and in 2020 40 students are expected to begin their Master’s programme in Medicine in St.Gallen. This would give us also access to the fields of life sciences and the growing healthcare market. Whether the new Master’s programme can be offered in St.Gallen will be decided by St.Gallen’s voting population in 2018.

Your university is very active in China with close collaborations in the academic world and vivid student exchanges. What are the highlights and how did this collaboration change the perception of China at the University of St.Gallen? How is University of St.Gallen perceived in China?

The University of St.Gallen since decades offers an intensive student exchange programme with top universities in China like Fudan, CEIBS, Bejing University or Tshingua. In addition, together with Tsinghua we are members of CEMS, a global network of leading business schools, that offers the CEMS MIM as a joint degree. There are various forms of cooperations also in the field of executive education. The university also has regular students from China. This year we had over 80.

Chinese students appreciate our links to the industry, the relevance of our courses and programmes and the research foundation of our teaching. But they also like the active student life and not to forget the beautiful environment of St.Gallen with its mountains and lakes as well as its location less than one hour from Zurich and two hours from Munich.

What is the reason for your current visit to Shanghai?

I had the honor to chair the peer review team for the EQUIS reaccreditation of the school of management of the Fudan University.

Do you have a message for the students in China?

It is impressive to see the speed of progress and change in China. Also how easy it has become to connect and to do business. I encourage all students to take advantage of this inspiring business climate and to learn about and in China.