British Scholarships to U.S. Schools Draw Controversy

A high-ranking member of the British government unveiled Tuesday a new scholarship program aimed at providing funds to British students from disadvantaged backgrounds to elite American business schools.

But while the scholarships were touted in England as allowing deserving students a shot at attending Harvard Business School (HBS) for half a year, University officials say the terms of the scholarship program are incompatible with the school’s curriculum.

“The Harvard MBA program is set up as a full-time two year program,” said Jim Aisner ’68, a spokesperson for HBS.

The Executive Education program is also incompatible, as it is aimed at educating mid-career students that would not be the target group selected for the scholarships, Aisner said.

But even if the plan is impractical to Harvard, it has drawn ire from British critics who view the scholarships as an insult to British education.

“The implication of this [scholarship program], whether intended or not, is that if you want to be a good entrepreneur you have to go to the United States,” said Laura D. Tyson, dean of the London Business School and former economic advisor to President Clinton, in an interview with The Times of London.


A spokesperson for the British Treasury Department dismissed such criticism.

“To say that we don’t think U.K. universities can do this job is nonsense,” he said.

The semester-long scholarships are tentatively named after Alan Greenspan, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Gordon Brown, chancellor of the Exchequer, spearheaded the development of the scholarship for £10,000 which will go to people starting entrepreneurial projects in deprived areas of the United Kingdom.

Edward Miliband, a Harvard visiting professor of government on leave from his post as a special advisor to Brown, said the scholarship has more to do with “embracing the concept of promoting business” than it does asserting the superiority of U.S. business schools.

The scholarship announcement was part of a new trade agreement between the United States and the U.K. Gordon said the greater trade and investment between the two nations could create as much as “$100 billion and one million jobs.”