BUSINESS SCHOOLS OF PAKISTAN
to re-engineer curriculum, standardize and control quality of graduates
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Sep 25 - Oct 01, 2000
Over the last one decade Pakistan has witnessed
mushroom growth of business schools. The University Grants Commission (UGC)
has been trying to weed out sub-standard institutions through its
accreditation process. These has been a wide gap between demand and
supply for professional managers. To take advantage of the situation, a
large number of schools have emerged in the private sector and each one
claims a prosperous and guaranteed future. However, the disparity in
salary package given to graduates from some of the ace business schools
and stocklots produced by others frustrate not only the job seekers but
their parent who spend thousands of rupees in the hope of ensuring a
prosperous career for their children.
While the commercial motive for establishing a
business school dominates all other objectives, the UGC has not been
able to control mushroom growth. Similarly, the broad policy outline
given by the UGC, which should have inculcated self-regulatory mechanism
is still not evident. The worries of academicians regarding curriculum,
standardization and quality assurance, demand complete re-engineering of
business education in the country. It is encouraging to note that some
of the institutions are making efforts to improve the quality of their
graduates. However, a lot has to be done at a much faster pace.
Surprisingly, a very important and integral part of
business education, information technology faces a much serious crisis.
Thousands of fly by night institutes have emerged. The week-end edition
of newspapers are full of offering a number of courses. In the absence
of career counselling services, the swarms of students land in these
institutes. However, once they get a certificate/diploma or even a
degree and try to enter the job market, they often find out that the
time, energy and money they have spent is of no consequence. Their level
of frustration is beyond imagination.
A point which has been grossly ignored is that
information technology is a tool to achieve the broad objectives of
business. It is not a stand--alone discipline which can ensure a
respectable career. Unless these boys and girls are exposed to core
business activities, how can they use the tool. The students also tend
to forget that there are two types of IT literate, data entry and system
developers. A large number of certificate/diploma holders are not even
fit to make an entry at the lowest level.
As the pace of life is getting much faster, the
employers do not prefer to employ trainees, they want people who are
productive from the day one. Therefore, the business schools need top
prepared graduates who can assume some responsibility from the day they
join a commercial entity.
This clearly demands re-engineering of curriculum.
There are two opposite school of thoughts. Institutions like Greenwich
University has launched a programme where students will be taught a
variety of subjects before entering MBA programme. As opposed to this,
the other group strongly believes that the number of courses taught
should be reduced or replaced by specialized courses. IBFAM has
introduced specialized programmes, i.e. MBA Finance and Banking to cater
to the growing needs for professionals in the financial sector. However,
there is a need to create a balance. This balance can be achieved
through greater interaction of academicians with the business community.
As regards improving the quality of education
imparted in the business schools, the concept of credit rating should be
introduced. It should be mandatory for business schools to print the
awarded ranking on the prospectus. Who can do the ranking is an
important issue for national debate but this ranking agency must consist
of reputed academicians. The three basic parameter for ranking should
be: infrastructure, faculty and financial strength.
In our recent survey we find out that some of the
deans of business schools have not learned business administration
and/or management sciences. One may wonder how can a person who has not
studied management sciences make any input in designing the curriculum
of a business school. Some of the business schools have tried to
replicate curriculum followed at IBA in the past.
Another issue which need immediate attention is
standardization of credit hours. Some of the business schools in the
name of MBA-Executive programme offer only a limited number of courses.
The number of hours per course are also curtailed. It may be true that
people joining executive programmes are mostly in-service people, can
experience be a substitute for formal teaching?
Another issue is working of Pakistan chapters of
foreign universities. Apparently some of them are still not fully
accredited by the UGC. Off and on announcements by the Commission
creates confusion which is hardly cleared. This issue must be settled
once for all on priority basis.