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By Dr. Khawaja Amjad Saeed
Jun 12 - 18, 2000

Professor Dr Khawaja Amjad Saeed, a former Pro Vice-Chancellor and Founder Director of IBA, University of the Punjab, Lahore, has contributed an article on "An Evaluation of the Best MBA Schools in Asia" as series 1. He will be contributing further series covering America's Best Business Graduate Schools and will also provide food for thought for the mushroom growth of Business Schools in Pakistan with the hope for improvement. These series will be published in our future issues.

Asia Inc. a monthly magazine from Hong Kong ranks and publishes names of 25 The Best MBA Schools covering exclusive Asia's Top 25 business programs after every two years. The latest ones were released in October 1999. The scope included Asia and Oceania. This piece examines the criteria for ranking, lists the names of 25 top business schools and the countries, explain criteria for ranking, states relevant details including special emphasis on unique features which enabled them to be ranked at the top.

Criteria for ranking

Criteria for ranking is very important. It must be properly conceptualized and later applied to developing for rank the business programs.

The following procedure was followed:

1. Ten points were awarded to No. 1 rank.

2. One point was awarded to rank No. 10.

Respondents were asked to rank MBA Schools by the following seven key criteria:

Quality of courses: Emerging courses like E-Commerce, TQM, Strategic Intent, High-tech Management & Entrepreneurial Marketing, emphasis on applications of management techniques etc. were reflected in courses. Courses needed to equip the participants for efficient and effective delivery system replaced the old system.

Quality of student intake: It is generally believed that if quality of students intake is high, the consequential effect on the output will be doubled. A flexible package was used by the 25 best ranked business schools with changing emphasis in respect of the following components of entry requirements:

a)  Undergraduate degree

b)  GMAT or alternate test

c)   English test

d)  Work experience

Quality of graduates: The final test of graduates is in world of work. The users are the best judge. The delivery of goods by graduates was ascertained from serving employers.


Quality of faculty: Teacher is the hub around whom the educational system revolves. Invariably the faculty held doctorates from top US and European Universities. Hard criteria existed in selecting faculty.


Quality of outreach to the business community: Gown-Town relationship was strong. The business community has been a big beneficiary of the talent of the above best business schools. This strengthened business schools relationship with potential employers.

Quality of executive education programmes: Executive educational programs (short term programs and E-MBA) were offered to improve knowledge, skills and attitudinal fronts. These enabled field experiences to be shared amongst participants and resulted in cross fertilization of ideas.

Quality of faculty consultants: Faculty was encouraged to serve as consultants. This had two benefits namely, logistical support to enterprises in terms of improvement in business practices and developed pool of experiences of real life business experiences in the class room. The name and number of respondents from whom the survey forms were got filled is not available. However response is available in Table 1.

Response Numbers to survey for Ranking Top Business Programs

Sr. #


Response (Number)


Quality of Courses



Quality of student Intake



Quality of Graduates



Quality of Faculty



Quality of Outreach to the Business Community



Quality of Executive Education Programs



Quality of Faculty Consultants



Source: Extracted from Asia Inc. Hong Kong: The Best MBA Schools: Exclusive Asia's Top 25 Business Programs, p. 3


Top 25 Asian MBA Programs of 1999

S. # Country Number
1. Australia 10
2. India 3
3. Singapore 2
4. Hong Kong 2
5. Thailand 2
6. China 1
7. Japan 1
8. New Zealand 1
9. Philippines 1
10. South Korea 1
11. Taiwan 1
Total: 25

Pakistan, through Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), was included at rank No. 23 in 1997 ranking. New countries which did not figure in 1997 ranking are now included in 1999 ranking are China, Taiwan and South Korea. One business school of India and one of Malaysia have been edged out in 1999 ranking.

Interesting facts

Annual full time students intake: The smallest intake was 30 (University of Adelaide, Australia) and the highest intake was 328 (Monash M. T. Eliza Business School, Melbourne). The average number of annual intake was 135. The range is 298. These figures explain that some schools are focusing on teaching few persons and others have programs for larger annual intakes.

Faculty-student ratio: The best faculty-student ratio was 1:02 (Hong Kong University of Science & Technology). The lowest ratio was 1:20 (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and University of Adelaide). The average is 1.09. This is a special strategy followed by the top business schools to achieve great heights.

Average age of entering students: The average age of entering students is 30 years. The lowest was 22 (Indian Institute of Ahmedabad) and the highest was 40 (National Taiwan University, Taipei). Peter Drucker has suggested 30 years as an entry point age in standard MBA programs. However, in developing countries, fresh graduates are admitted in the above programs. In other countries, with advanced level of economic development, persons with practical experience withdraw from their jobs to acquire innovative knowledge, new skills and attitudes for better performance to achieve productive results.

Foreign students: Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok had the highest number of foreign students studying (97%) while no foreign student was studying in Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India, University of Auckland and National Taiwan University. The average number of foreign students is 30%.

Average starting salary: There is a wide range in the average starting salary of MBAs from the foregoing schools. This depended upon area where they work. In SAARC region, salaries are low. In Far East salaries are higher. However in Oceania and Japan, salaries are far higher than Far East. The minimum average starting salary reported is $ 10,426 (India) and the highest is $ 82,000 (Japan).

Unique features

The above business schools have been implementing the following unique service points by reflecting these in their delivery system:

1. Cater to students with focus on Asian region.

2. Substantial number of Ph.Ds on the faculty — generally over 85%.

3. Research driven management education.

4. Joint degree programs by two Universities i.e. local and abroad.

5. Strong linkages with top notch business alumni.

6. Use of locally generated case studies as a part of pedagogical tool.

7. Links with richest tycoons.

8. Employment of research-oriented faculty trained at top US business schools.

9. Access to some of Asia's top economists and business minds.

10. Incorporation of lessons of most competitive economies into teaching.

11. Exchange program with top European MBA schools to complement strong academic ties with the US.

12. Use of interactive teaching methods, including online materials.

13. Emphasis on applied management.

14. Curriculum based on hands-on projects and real life business in the region.

15. Conducting cutting edge research.

16. Training top managers and future CEOs.

17. Focus on technology management.

18. Faculty with industry experience.

19. Offering a wide range of graduate diplomas in finance, accounting, human resource management and other specialties.

20. Teaching linked to country focused reforms.

This article provides immense food for thought for Pakistani Business Schools (Public, Private or other sectors) to initiate improvements. The criteria stated above should be tested on each school on self-evaluation basis. Bench marking should be resorted to and the Japanese management tool (Kaizan) of continuous improvement be implemented. The quality of products to be produced by us will become superior and we will help our business and industry to move into the 21st century with abiding commitment to our country and with an assured confidence as a new culture of Pakistan.

The author is Dean, Executive Programs, Punjab College of Business Administration, Gulberg, Lahore.