Banking on business schools
Business schools have been around since the early 1900s. Now, well over a century later, an ever-increasing number of companies see a masters of business administration ( MBA) qualification as a prerequisite for any senior management role. There is little doubt that enrolling for and completing a business school qualification comes at a high price, both financially and emotionally. These programmes can vary in duration and type.
At Henley Business School, a three-day finance for nonfinancial managers programme costs R10 600, and the 22-day managers accelerated progression+ programme is R46 000.
Jonathan Foster-Pedley, the dean and director at Henley Business School, says: “Our prices are very much in line with the other leading business schools in South Africa, even though we are part of a top 1% international business school.”
So, what exactly is a business school? Simply put, a business school is a university-level institution that provides specialist courses and programme or degree qualifications in business administration or management – necessary skills in the technology-intensive public, private and nonprofit sectors across the world.
Courses cover a range of topics from economics to entrepreneurship, and just about everything in-between like logistics, marketing and strategy.
Content is delivered through the use of different techniques. These include case studies, problemsolving analysis, strategic planning, skills-based approaches that emphasise quantitative methods, business games, as well as the more traditional lecture method. Often, business schools use a blend of different approaches.
Business schools are a burgeoning industry in South Africa. The demand is so high that the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs) has introduced additional MBA programmes for 2014, and Henley Business School has grown its MBA programme almost fivefold since a decade ago.
Despite the high cost of these programmes, the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Earlier this year, Wits Business School (WBS) reported a high increase in registration numbers.
With such high demand in the market, it is important for individuals who are considering enrolling for these coveted qualifications to do some research upfront. Reputable institutions are subject to external auditing and are accredited, either locally or internationally.
“Wherever you go in the world, people need to respect your qualification. Africa is increasingly becoming a global player, so get an MBA that is known around the world, not just inside our borders,” advises Foster-Pedley.
But choosing a business school does not automatically translate into enrolment. The top-rated schools are keenly focused on attracting quality candidates, rather than merely increasing the quantity of enrolments.
The SA Business Schools Association notes that the MBA is “still the most sought after qualification in the world”.
Why is there such a high demand for a business school qualification?
Shaun Rozyn, the executive director of executive education at Gibs, says: “In a competitive, globally relevant economy, senior executives need the capacity to see the bigger picture, to grasp strategic ramifications and allocate resources based on a general management ethos.”
WBS head Steve Bluen says: “Key to any business is its strategy, and you cannot develop a strong, sustainable strategy if you are not relevant and if you don’t understand the context in which you are operating.”
The other attraction of a business school qualification may also be the opportunity to command six-figure salaries.
Three years after graduating, the average salary of individuals with an MBA comfortably exceeds R1.3 million. This is according to the QS Global Business Schools survey, which covered 4 318 employers who actively recruit MBA graduates.
It would seem, then, that business schools are able to provide the proverbial win-win solution – prosperity of the individual and the company.