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Christopher Futcher

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

Several hundred aspiring MBAs will descend on Vancouver and Toronto next week for the first two Canadian stops this year on the QS World MBA Tour, which brings about two dozen Canadian and international business schools under one roof for a day-long recruitment pitch.

Beyond cost, program content and scholarships, one question stands above the rest for prospective students: What does the job market look like for MBAs?

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Despite recent gloomy economic news, global employers appear to be keen to hire MBA graduates this year.

In a year-end 2015 poll of more than 159 employers (66 per cent from the United States), the Graduate Management Admission Council reports "healthy demand for recent graduates of master-level business programs – especially MBAs."

According to GMAC, which is based in Reston, Va., 75 per cent of employers expect to hire MBA graduates this year (compared to 71 per cent last year), with growing interest by recruiters in those pursuing specialty master-level programs in accounting and management. Not least, 56 per cent of employers plan to increase base salaries at or above the rate of inflation for new MBA hires, with 73 per cent of those surveyed planning to offer internships.

The positive job forecast is consistent with the message from employers in Canada, says Sharon Irwin-Foulon, executive director of career management and corporate recruiting at Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario. "I'm not hearing any panic or decrease in hiring. The firms are all very engaged."

If anything, she adds, the global downturn in the oil sector could leave more MBAs available for expanding technology companies.

For MBA graduates in 2015, the employment reports now being published by Canadian business schools are generally positive.

At Ivey in London, Ont., of those in the 129-member class seeking work, 92 per cent had received an offer by Sept 1, 2015, with an average salary of $101,479 (including signing bonus and other guaranteed compensation).

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McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal issued its employment report this week, with 84 per cent of the 2015 MBA class landing a job within three months of graduation (based on responses from 92 per cent of the class). The average base salary (not counting extra compensation) was $84,000, based on responses from 67 per cent of the class. Half of the school's MBA graduates joined companies in Montreal, 28 per cent went to Toronto and another 22 per cent landed work abroad.

The University of Alberta's business school in Edmonton reports that 77 per cent of its 2015 MBA class of 73 students were employed within three months of graduation, earning an average base salary of $82,122. Nine of 10 graduates remained in Canada, the majority of them in Alberta.

At the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, 77 per cent of last year's class were employed by graduation, with an average base salary of $72,000, according to the Vancouver school's employment report. More than one-third of the class are working outside the province.

Quebec university sets up entrepreneurship centre

Université de Sherbrooke is in the midst of a 10-year, $60-million fundraising campaign for an on-campus entrepreneurship centre that aims to foster collaboration between the faculty of business administration and its academic counterparts, as well as with private-sector companies and local governments in the region.

"The business school is a major partner and we have a buy-in from all faculties on campus, with all projects related to entrepreneurship," says Jacques Beauvais, vice-president of research, innovation and entrepreneurship for Sherbrooke. "It [entrepreneurship] has become an institutional strategy."

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The university's 10-point strategy on entrepreneurship, developed in 2014, aims to focus the institution's energy on quantum technologies (for which the university received significant federal government funding last year), transportation, renewable energy and medical technology.

The new centre will be housed in the Interdisciplinary Institute for Technological Innovation, one of four research institutes on campus.

As part of its contribution to Sherbrooke's entrepreneurship strategy, the business faculty has added an undergraduate course in entrepreneurship and recruits employers to provide work experience opportunities for students.

Familiar faces among student competition winners

Business-student competitions are in full swing across the country, with consistency a point of pride for several schools.

Wilfrid Laurier University's Lazaridis School of Business won "school of the year" honours this month for the seventh consecutive year at the JDC Central (academic cases, charity events, sports and social activities) competition. Concordia University's John Molson School of Business and the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management came second and third, respectively.

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At Jeux de Commerce, one of the oldest and largest student competitions in Canada, Molson took home top honours, followed by HÉC Montreal (a top-three finisher 23 times in the past 28 years) and Telfer.

At the MBA Games (case studies, athletic and spirit events), also held this month, the winners were: McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business; Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management; York University's Schulich School of Business.

Meanwhile, for the third year in a row, students at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management won the Annual Ethics Challenge sponsored by the chartered financial analysts' CFA Society Toronto and CFA Institute. Teams from four universities spent two months on a real-life investment scenario, analyzed the ethical dilemma and presented their findings to a panel of industry professionals.

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