Formed in 1900 as Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Rennes, the Rennes School of Business became a Grand Ecole in 1998 and has pursued a strongly international identity during the present century.
Under the slogan of "Bring the world to Rennes", it proclaims a mission to "prepare, through education and research, innovative and responsible managers to perform in a global environment". Its earliest international accreditation, attained in 1994, was from Britain’s Open University. The most significant – the triple accreditation – was achieved in consecutive years from 2012 to 2014.
While French-medium options remain, all courses including first degrees are offered in English. Olivier Aptel, dean from 2006 to 2017, argued that it would be difficult to attract international students to its four campuses in Rennes, the capital of Brittany, if they also had to study in French, and riffed on the school slogan in proclaiming the intention “To bring the world to Rennes rather than to bring Rennes to the world”.
More than half of the students and 90 per cent of faculty are international. The largest student groups are Indian and Chinese and plans were announced in 2018 to expand international numbers from 2,800 to close on 5,000 with countries represented increasing from 70 to 100. A network of more than 260 international partners and 20 double degrees also incorporates exchange agreements with 15 universities in India.
The university offers 15 different specialist masters' courses including an MSc in international business negotiation, while research centres focus on Responsible Business, Technology and Innovation and Supply Chain and Operations Management.