The Australian - The Deal - - First Up - PHIL DOLAN Dean, Univer­sity of Western Aus­tralia Busi­ness School JAMES DUNN

UNIVER­SITY of Western Aus­tralia will of­fer an in­ten­sive one-year MBA course from next year in ad­di­tion to the flex­i­ble course it has of­fered for 40 years and which can be spread over as long as five years part-time.

Pro­fes­sor Phil Dolan, dean of the UWA Busi­ness School, says the new MBA will fill a niche in the west coast mar­ket. “Tra­di­tion­ally, we have of­fered a part-time MBA pro­gram, evenings and week­ends, de­signed for peo­ple who are in the work­force who can’t take the time off to study full-time,” he says. “But in­creas­ingly, around the world, the trend is to­ward in­ten­sive one-year full-time MBA pro­grams. What has tended to hap­pen is that peo­ple who’ve wanted to study on that ba­sis have ei­ther gone to the east coast or off­shore. We felt that it was time that we had a world-class full-time MBA pro­gram of­fered in the state.”

Dolan says the new full-time de­gree re­flects the changes in the MBA mar­ket. “Full-time MBA pro­grams are con­dens­ing down into one year, driven, we think, by the fact that there’s a very high op­por­tu­nity cost in tak­ing two years out of the work­force. The salary you forego is more than the cost of the pro­gram. There are still a small num­ber of high-qual­ity tra­di­tional two-year cour­ses, places like Har­vard and Stan­ford, but the broader mar­ket is in­creas­ingly mov­ing to one year.”

In the tra­di­tional two-year Ivy League MBA model, says Dolan, the pro­gram breaks for summer, dur­ing which the stu­dents do an in­tern­ship. Busi­ness schools are build­ing an in­tern­ship, work ex­pe­ri­ence and a hands-on project into the pro­gram it­self, mean­ing they can of­fer a one-year pro­grams.

“That’s the ap­proach we’re fol­low­ing, in that a big part of our full-time pro­gram will be what we call the ‘busi­ness ad­vi­sory project,’ where stu­dents, in teams of four or five will go into com­pa­nies and work on real-world prob­lems – ac­tual projects with a de­liv­er­able at the end – and the stu­dents will be as­sessed on that. We’re see­ing that em­ploy­ers want the stu­dents when they come out to have ac­tu­ally put into prac­tice in a real-world set­ting the ma­te­rial that they’ve learned in the class­room,” he says.

Com­pa­nies have sup­ported the pro­gram by of­fer­ing to host teams in the busi­ness ad­vi­sory project – like “hav­ing a mini-con­sult­ing team come in for three months, for free,” says Dolan – as well as plac­ing hand-picked high-po­ten­tial stu­dents into the de­gree, and pro­vid­ing schol­ar­ships: BHP Bil­li­ton has do­nated $1 mil­lion worth of schol­ar­ships for the $66,000 course.

Site vis­its to big re­sources projects – as well as re­lated sites, such as the har­bour at Port Hed­land and Rio Tinto’s re­mote op­er­a­tions cen­tre in Perth – are also part of the cor­po­rate sup­port. Dolan stresses that this is “not a re­sources MBA” – although, as would be ex­pected of a univer­sity bear­ing the name of Western Aus­tralia, there is a “re­sources bent,” and one of the spe­cial­i­sa­tions avail­able in the pro­gram is in the nat­u­ral re­sources sec­tor.

“That sim­ply re­flects the very close re­la­tion­ships we have with some of the big­gest re­sources com­pa­nies in the world, on our doorstep: just as Stan­ford is right in the mid­dle of, and deeply as­so­ci­ated with, Sil­i­con Val­ley and the IT world,” he says. “We’d like to think this pro­gram has the po­ten­tial to at­tract stu­dents from around the world who want to work at a high level in the re­sources sec­tor. We’re hop­ing to at­tract stu­dents from coun­tries where re­sources are a big part of the econ­omy – that could be Brazil, South Africa, Canada.”

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