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Macquarie’s MBA course lets students juggle the pressures of study, work and family
SYDNEY businesswoman Karen O’Connor (pictured) was halfway through her part-time MBA at Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management when she gave birth to twins. But she managed to juggle all the competing demands on her time and energy.
“One of the major reasons I chose to do my studies at Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management was because its MBA degree course is just so flexible, offering lectures at nights and weekends as well as during normal working hours,” O’Connor says. “I was able to start quite slowly, studying on a part-time basis while also working in a very demanding job. Plus I never found the course requirements hard because it was all just so interesting.”
As MBA students, often in their late 20s and 30s, seek to juggle the pressures of study, work and family, universities are finding that having flexible student options is increasingly important.
O’Connor began her MBA studies parttime in 2004 while working as group marketing manager of a $70 million surgical supply business with four other marketing managers and reporting to her. She first graduated from Macquarie University with a Masters of Management in 2011, followed by her MBA in 2012. The key to making it all possible, O’Connor says, is maximum flexibility in both local workplace and university coursework requirements – combined with determination, a willingness to work very hard, and, ideally, if there are young children, an extremely supportive partner.
According to Macquarie University’s Professor Charles Areni, the rapid rise and increasing prestige of Asian universities, particularly in China, means maximum flexibility for Australian-based students will be essential if all existing Australian university MBA offerings are to survive in the medium to longer term.
Overall, Australian university graduate management and business schools have experienced a fall in overseas student enrolments of 10,000 in the past few years, Areni says, a worrying trend only partially offset by a slight rise in local enrolments. Areni says it is essential for universities to understand the pressures that studying for an MBA can place on students, particularly those who also have young children and/or demanding jobs, and do all in their power to harness technological and other innovations to help ease these pressures and expand study opportunities.
“For example some business schools, particularly in the US, are now beginning to explore the option of offering online-based MBAs. One such is Pennsylvania’s renowned Wharton Business School, which is dipping its toe into this innovation as an experiment, in part, just to see how the market responds.”
“Traditionally, the view has been that it is absolutely essential for MBA students to work together in groups and be able to interrelate closely with each other and with lecturers, meaning that entirely online, ‘ virtual’ MBA courses have not generally been considered feasible. But gradually, universities are beginning to recognise that online offerings can be very effective in generating volume via upselling and cross-selling,” Areni says.