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Alberta’s School of Business in Edmonton was ranked 66th in the Financial Times’ list of top open enrolment programs for executives, 77th for customized programs.

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

Six Canadian business schools – one of them new to the list – have made the Financial Times' annual global ranking of executive education programs that cater to companies and individuals.

Led by the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, Canadian schools made the FT's top-70 global list of open enrolment programs (non-degree training for professionals from a cross-section of companies) and the top-80 list of customized programs that are tailored for an individual company.

In the open enrolment category, with Switzerland's IMD on top, Rotman tied for 20th spot, followed by Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.; Queen's School of Business in Kingston (28); York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto (39); Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia (49) in Vancouver; and the University of Alberta's School of Business in Edmonton (66).

For customized programs, Rotman placed 42nd followed by Ivey (45), Schulich (57), and Alberta (77). U of A's School of Business is a newcomer on both lists, after making its first bid to join the rankings that assess internationally-accredited schools with at least $2-million in revenue from executive education programs in 2013.

Like all global competitors who suffered a sharp decline in demand for training after the 2008 recession, Canadian schools point to a much-changed, postrecession attitude. Companies are looking for shorter, more focused programs, and more individuals are willing to invest their own time and money to stay competitive.

"It's not necessarily that the economy has improved," says Michele Milan, head of executive programs at Rotman. "It is more that the pace and complexity of business are demanding that people constantly address their skills both as individuals and organizations."

She adds, "You can't put that [training] on hold for long without falling behind. It is the pace of competition."

After what she describes as "several tough years" for executive education programs, Ms. Milan says her school added six new open enrolment offerings to its inventory of 18 programs, with participants coming from the United States, Australia and Europe. Meanwhile, with customized programs, she says "companies are very focused in what they are looking for," such as risk management trading simulations.

For 2014-15, she says she expects revenue growth of 10 per cent over a year earlier.

Others are less optimistic about a rebound in domestic demand.

Alan Middleton, executive director of the Schulich Executive Centre at Schulich, cites Conference Board of Canada data that show Canadian firms spent $705 an employee in 2013 compared to $782 an employee a decade ago. As well, he says an analysis by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that Canada has slipped to 28 of 59 countries in spending on work force training, down from a reliably top-20 performance 15 years ago.

"We are not going anywhere," says Mr. Middleton, who estimates demand for professional training fell by one-third after the recession of 2008-09.

He argues the federal government's job training strategy should look beyond unemployment and address the skills development of those already in organizations. "Where is the up-skilling going on?" he asks. "It is not anywhere near enough."

Increasingly, he says, Canadian business schools are looking abroad to tap fast-rising demand for executive education in China, India and Latin America.

Over the past decade, he says, Schulich has provided on-campus training for employees of Chinese companies who come to Canada for several weeks of specialized training.

In a new arrangement that begins this spring, Schulich and Beihang University School of Economics and Management have set up the Sino-Canadian Joint Centre for Executive Education to deliver on-campus programs in Beijing.

He says Schulich plans to add more executive training options in India, where the school has several education partnerships but still awaits Indian government approval for a proposed degree-granting Schulich campus in Hyderabad.

Student entrepreneurs make semi-finals at international competition

Young entrepreneurs from four Canadian business schools made the top 40 of the International Business Model Competition, an event at Brigham Young University in Utah that drew teams from 18 countries and 209 schools. The Canadian semi-finalists included Andrew Paradi and Brandon Chow, first-year business students at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., who developed software to analyze Web data. They got to Utah by winning the Canadian business model competition last month. Students from Dalhousie University in Halifax, University of Windsor and the University of Waterloo also placed as semi-finalists in Utah.

TD Bank donates to Montreal higher education

Through a fundraising initiative, HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and Université de Montréal have received $1-million from Toronto-Dominion Bank for education and research in environmental studies and sustainable development.

"Harmonizing our modes of production and consumption with the values of sustainable development is one of the many topics our researchers are looking into," HEC Montréal director Michel Patry said in a statement.

The fundraising campaign, known as Campus Montréal, aims to raise $500-million for research, scholarships and campus infrastructure at the three institutions.

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