Harvard Business School’s endowment fund, at over $3bn, is bigger than the GDP of more than 30 countries, including 10 in Africa. Add the schools of Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg and Sloan, and the combined $7.7bn outranks the income of 45 countries. Welcome to the world of alumni relations at US business schools, where former students think nothing of donating fortunes to the educational institutions where they studied. These are figures SA business schools can only dream of. In part, it is because SA does not share the US tradition of large donations to tertiary alma maters. But it’s also because, on the whole, SA schools are lousy at keeping in touch with their graduates. Research for this story shows that, overall, SA schools have retained contact with 73% of MBA alumni who graduated in the past five years. At some schools, the figure is over 90%, at two it’s 30%. For those who graduated between six and 10 years ago, the contact rate falls to 47%. When it comes to more than 10 year...

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