MBA in Australia
MBA in Australia A Few Reasons Why
It is becoming increasingly easy to answer the question: 'Why study an MBA?' The answer to the question 'Why study an MBA in Australia?' has been an easy one to answer for more than two decades.
MBA in Australia
Why study an MBA?
If you have an undergraduate degree in any field, have at least two years of managerial, professional or equivalent experience and wish to make the very best investment you can make in your future career success, study leading to the award of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is for you.
Look around you!
Globalisation continues apace, national borders are eroding around the world, international competitive pressures are increasing, industrial re-structuring continues within the giant North American trade bloc, the Euro will soon provide a renewed fillip to industrial reform within Euroland, and Asia, the wounded tiger, will recover its lost vitality over time.
These dramatic changes in long-term world economic prospects are placing an increasing premium upon those who possess a deep knowledge of, and associated skills pertinent to, what it takes to achieve organisational success in a highly competitive world. I use the words 'organisational success' advisedly - the usefulness of the knowledge and skills conferred by an MBA are not just confined to business enterprises.
Certainly, the belief is growing in the minds of the Chief Executives of giant international companies that an MBA is rapidly becoming a minimum qualification for managers or executives within their companies. But MBAs can contribute equally well to the success of small businesses scrambling for niche markets in an increasingly globalised market place. MBAs are becoming more and more sought after in public sector organisations under intense pressure from governments for improved performance at reduced cost. Thus ongoing public sector reforms that embody commercialisation, corporatisation, outsourcing and/or privatisation necessitate the skills possessed by MBA graduates if they are to be implemented effectively.
Moreover, the professional practices of accountants, lawyers, doctors and other health care providers (such as physiotherapists) are facing growing pressures to consolidate, to increase in size, to utilise more sophisticated marketing, information technology, customer service and financial strategies as means to achieve business success. Increasingly, professionals in these fields are deciding to study an MBA as a means to reinforce their business skills, and hence the profitability of their practices.
Finally, whatever the content of one's undergraduate degree, an MBA increases the range of potential career choices available to include managerial or executive roles within a diverse range of industries.
What are the skills and knowledge encapsulated within an MBA that can contribute to organisational success? In brief, the secret of the success of a good MBA (and more of this later) is three-fold:
- It increases the self-confidence and personal effectiveness of the person concerned
- It provides them with a deep understanding of what is required to make organisations successful
- It equips them to identify and implement the changes required to ensure an organisation achieves success (or remains successful) within a rapidly changing business environment.
How and why does a good MBA confer these skills and knowledge?
An MBA develops appropriate skills and knowledge in two ways: by means of what students have the opportunity to learn, and by how they learn it. Typically, a good MBA will include the opportunity to study around sixteen subjects, which provide a broad portfolio of business-related skills and knowledge. These subjects include fundamentals such as accounting, economics, the study of organisations, quantitative methods, and the elements of international management, and then scope for more intensive study in fields such as finance, people management, information technology, marketing, international management and general management. Specific topics within these fields could range from entrepreneurship to quality management, or from derivative securities to operations management. But the way in which students learn within an MBA is even more important than the topics they study.
Students within an MBA program often have quite extensive experience of the business world, hence they represent a key resource in the learning process. The quality and experience of students themselves, of the faculty members, and of the learning resources and facilities available to both are crucial to the quality of the learning environment. In these circumstances, faculty members in a good MBA program assume more of the role of facilitators than of 'teachers'. The learning process becomes one in which students acquire enlightenment knowledge, skills and growing self-confidence as a result of being exposed to diverse learning opportunities such as individual research, group projects, guest lecturers from business and government, class discussion of real-life cases, and from delivering individual and group presentations to audiences of their peers.
From this ferment of rich educational development, the better students emerge with an ambition 'to change the world' and more importantly, the skills and self-confidence to do so! Whilst all MBA graduates must gain experience and earn their advancement 'on the job', the MBA provides a powerful conceptual framework within which they are able to derive the greatest advantage from that experience.
Why study an MBA in Australia?
There are two fundamental reasons for studying an MBA in Australia:
- Australia offers internationally recognised MBAs at prestigious universities;
- Australia offers a host of other advantages for students.
To appreciate the significance of the first point, it is necessary to explore briefly the meaning of the term 'good MBA'. At one extreme, it is possible in some countries to acquire an 'MBA' certificate through the mail by spending a few hundred dollars. Such 'MBAs' are obviously not worth the paper they are written on, and any employer duped into hiring such a person would soon learn their mistake and act accordingly. At the other end of the spectrum are MBAs acquired on the basis of diligent study and participation over a period of at least 16 months, within a rich learning environment at an internationally-recognised management school within a prestigious university. The difference between these two experiences lies in the changes that they effect within the student.
A good MBA will develop the individual significantly, including their capacity to work as an effective team member, to lead others, and to be effective in interpersonal relationships through enhanced self-confidence, communication, presentation and negotiation skills. In addition, his or her capacity to diagnose the changes required to achieve business success and the power to implement these changes will be increased dramatically. By contrast, a poor MBA will effect none of these changes within the individual, and thus individual performance will be poor.
Australian MBA Programs
Particularly within its capital cities, Australia possesses a large number of MBA programs which meet the above criteria for providing a good MBA. Very early in its history, Australia inherited the British academic tradition of rigorous inquiry and adherence to high academic standards. Australia's oldest universities in particular are internationally-renowned for their very high standards of research and teaching.
Currently, a total of 55 Australian universities offer MBA programs. The prevailing model at the better institutions is the 'Harvard style' MBA, which provides around 16 diverse business related subjects, delivered over a period of 16 months to 2 years of full-time study. The shorter (16 month) program is delivered by institutions who have adopted the trimester system as a means to reduce the opportunity cost of an MBA to its students. Students may also study part-time, and most choose to do so.
The better MBA programs are truly international in terms of curriculum and orientation. This international focus is enhanced by the large number of international students that study in Australia. At Graduate Schools of Management, for example, students from about 30 countries within Europe, North America, Asia and Africa participate in the MBA program, and graduates now occupy executive positions in organisations throughout the world. Superior MBA programs are delivered by the older universities located in each of the State capital cities. In general, these are particularly well resourced in terms of quality of faculty, calibre of students and also in terms of library, computer and other facilities.
Consortium of Australian Management and Business Schools
Of particular note is the Consortium of Australian Management and Business Schools (CAMBS), which includes a number of these institutions. Members of CAMBS include The University of Adelaide, Deakin University, The University of Queensland, The University of Tasmania and The University of Western Australia. These institutions have agreed to cross-credit subjects studied in the MBA programs of other Consortium members.
This arrangement facilitates ease of movement of students between the various Australian States. The availability of distance education from Deakin University further increases the flexibility that Consortium members can offer.
International students therefore have the opportunity to study an MBA wholly in Australia, or to study for a semester or trimester towards their degree at an institution of their choice. This may be facilitated by exchange arrangements between their home university and an Australian university, as Student Study Plans can be tailored to the specific educational needs of the students concerned. Other award management programs are also on offer including PhD, Doctor of Business Administration, Graduate Diploma in Management and Graduate Certificate in Management.
Other advantages of studying in Australia include:
Australia provides a meeting ground between East and West. Perth, for example, is in the same time zone as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei. Developments in Asia are subject to close academic and business scrutiny within Australia, and specific MBA courses are tailored to elicit deep student understanding of the Asia/Pacific Region.
Industrial restructuring and public sector reform have been actively pursued by successive Australian governments since the mid-1970s. As a consequence, the Australian economy is currently experiencing both robust economic growth and low inflation, and is presently one of the strongest performing economies in the world. Hence the analysis of industrial re-structuring, public sector reform and the management of change is right at the 'cutting edge' within Australian management schools. Notwithstanding Australia's sound economic prospects, because of low world prices for commodities, Australia's exchange rate is currently low (the Australian dollar is equivalent to 62 US cents). The cost of an MBA program is consequently relatively low in world terms - for example, international students pay AU$2000 per subject for each of the 16 units at the University of Western Australia, a total of AU$32 000.
Australia is renowned for its many attractive beaches and associated tourist outlets, which tend to be popular with visitors from the Northern Hemisphere. The environment is clean and the climate is mild and pleasant in both winter and summer, allowing international students to sample the ample recreational, cultural and sporting facilities, activities which allow students to relax in the few precious moments that they can spare away from their intensive MBA studies!
In summary, if you would like to see more of the world, to study intensively in a clean, pleasant, novel, interesting environment, to complete a high-quality, internationally-recognised business-oriented Masters degree, and to improve significantly on your career prospects, studying towards an MBA is the thing to do - and Australia is the place to do it.
Author: Bruce McCallum Studies Co-ordinator, The Graduate School of Management The University of Western Australia Perth, Western Australia