Cass soars to take on the global high-fliers

October 15, 2004

London's Cass Business School is rising faster up the Financial Times league tables than any other business school worldwide.

Since David Currie joined as dean in 2001, Cass has been changing and repositioning itself with clear success.

In this year's league table of business schools, Cass - formerly City University Business School - jumped to 42nd place from 81st two years ago.

Lord Currie's aim is to take it right up into the top ten.

The school, which is named after the 17th-century educational philanthropist Sir John Cass, has spent a year in its £50 million new building in the north of the City of London. The Cass Foundation paid part of the building costs.

The mood in the school is buoyant, with new facilities, funds to hire new staff and a remit to go places. In its largest recruitment drive since it changed its name in 2001, 19 new academic staff will start this year along with as many as 50 support staff.

To show that it is serious about getting the best, the school last year introduced a form of performance-related pay - or financial rewards, as human resources prefers to call it - for staff who excel in teaching, research or customer services.

Two years ago, City's actuarial science and statistics faculty moved from the maths department to the business school. Richard Verrall, its head, who has been at City for 17 years, said the move had been a success and not just because the academics had enjoyed an average pay rise of more than 10 per cent.

He said: "Business has been happier to talk to us. We're not just stuck in an ivory tower. This puts many more resources our way - for example, a full-time research coordinator, which helps us to apply for grants.

"It's a nice building, but a school depends on the quality of its staff.

The university has a devolved management so all schools are separate economies."

Cass has its own human resources team, development office, alumni relations officer and press office. Next year, a director of development will begin to drive its new emphasis on fundraising.

Lord Currie was appointed chair of communications regulator Ofcom in 2002 and spends most of his time on that. He chairs high-level committees in the school and is heavily involved with external matters. "I am talking to lots of major businesses and going overseas to talk about possible collaborations with other institutions," he said.

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