Grandes écoles: why tuition fees are becoming more and more expensive

Grandes ecoles why tuition fees are becoming more and more

There was a time – not so long ago – when studying in a business school cost less than 10,000 euros per year. From now on, to follow a Grande Ecole program (PGE), you have to pay – on average – 12,447 euros. This increase concerns in particular post-preparatory business schools. This year, HEC and Essec crossed the threshold of 18,000 euros, closely followed by ESCP, emlyon BS and Edhec with around 17,000 euros. Four years ago, no management school cost more than 15,500 euros per year. A bygone era…

The health crisis and the geopolitical context have nothing to do with this development: with their eyes riveted on the competition, schools are above all seeking to multiply accreditations and improve their performance in international rankings.

Up to 53% increase

To pay for their registration, business school students – or their parents – must therefore get their hands on the wallet, and it is better that it is very thick. It’s very simple: between 2015 and 2022, costs have soared by 28% on average, starring Rennes School of Business, which offered itself a 53% increase (from 8,967 euros in 2015 to 13,678 euros in 2022). “Business schools are an elitist world. If their prices are too low, the quality of training is called into question”, says William Hurst, director of EDC Paris, a post-baccalaureate school whose cost has increased. by 18% since 2015 to reach 10,105 euros.

At Audencia, the program director, Nicolas Arnaud, makes no secret of it: tuition fees increase systematically – by 13% in certain years. “The school had to catch up in the early 2010s, but since 2019 we have been on a stabilization of fees with marginal increases (1.52% in 2019). In our competitive universe, Audencia remains relatively inexpensive, even if, we are aware, a sum of 15,000 euros is not trivial for families.”

Same strategy on the side of HEC, whose prices increase by an average of 4.66% per year. “We staggered our increases gradually to compensate for the loss of public resources that we suffered in parallel”, explains Eric Ponsonnet, deputy director general in charge of finance within the postpreparatory school. In fact, the sums paid by the chambers of commerce and industry have dried up, falling for HEC from 20% to… 1% of its revenue. “Student remittances finance only part of the school’s expenses, whether it is buildings, teachers, materials, etc. These are other lines of income, such as the apprenticeship tax or continuing education, which allow us to find the necessary complements”, underlines Alice Guilhon, the president of the Conference of French schools of management (CDEFM).

Three years or five years, the rates are almost the same

Should we see a causal link or not? In any case, in the international rankings, it is indeed the most expensive schools that we find in the best world ranks, in particular the post-prepared. And the duration of schooling does not seem to change anything. Count up to 55,635 euros for three years against – at most – 65,125 euros for a post-baccalaureate school in five years. Clearly, despite two years less on the clock, the annual investment remains much greater in post-preparatory school. “The requirements are not the same for bac + 3 and bac + 5 levels. This is also what explains why some schools increase their registration fees between the third and fourth year”, says Nicolas Arnaud.

Under these conditions, one of the solutions to display lower prices than its competitors without cutting corners on quality remains learning. Moreover, the method is used more by the least expensive schools, such as EDC Paris. In 2021-2022, nearly 46% of the students of this post-baccalaureate establishment were on an apprenticeship or professionalization contract, with companies being able to absorb all the costs.

The practice of fees modulated according to the income of the parents also attracts attention. At Essca (post-baccalaureate), they oscillate between 2,980 and 12,005 euros per year, knowing that students from the most affluent backgrounds had to support an increase of 17.5% compared to the start of the 2021 school year. Other establishments prefer to focus their strategy on the development of scholarships or even on differentiated fees between French and international students. “Each school has its mode of operation, but none charges more than 80% of the total cost to the students”, underlines Alice Guilhon.

Despite everything, seven schools managed to lower their fees compared to 2021*, and nine others stabilized their fees. But everything suggests that they should remain the exception.

* Ipag: -3.18%; Toulouse BS: -2.15%; ISG Paris: -2.02%; Audencia BS: -1.64%; Kedge BS: -1.21%; EM Strasbourg: -0.32%; Istec: -0.09%.