When times were good, finance-related MSc courses were all the rage. Now that things are much less good, the financial services MSc is looking a little over-banked.
In the UK alone, there are now MScs in Finance (or related subjects) on offer everywhere from Lancaster to Bath, York, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Leeds and Durham, as well as better known locations like Imperial, the London School of Economics and Cambridge University. Many were conceived in the years since 2003.
Can the new shrunken financial services market support all these finance postgraduates? If France is anything to go by, the answer is no. As we reported recently on our French site, Paris Dauphine, a university well known for its financial courses, has pulled its Masters in Financial Markets, citing reduced demand for traders.
Some of the many UK courses may yet suffer a similar fate. For the moment, however, a lack of graduate traineeships and supply of redundant bankers seem to be ensuring a steady stream of applicants. A spokesman for Imperial College Business School told us they didn't want to go into "too much detail" on the number of people interested in their MSc in Finance, but that -
"We have found that current applications for the programmes you are interested in are broadly in line with expectations. There is no significant increase. Anecdotally, we are seeing an ever stronger calibre of applicant for these programmes."
It's interesting, therefore, that London Business School, which has recently launched a new Masters Course for university leavers, is pitching it in the direction of general management instead of financial services specifically.
Deputy Dean of LBS Julian Birkinshaw says the new course was conceived prior to the crunch and that its content has more to do with an attempt to avoid confusion with the better-established LBS Masters in Finance for experienced bankers, than with an attempt to avoid the saturated market in masters courses for university leavers. It looks like a good choice though - banks' appetite for specialist Masters students is unlikely to recover soon.