THE LEADING BUSINESS SCHOOLS OF PAKISTAN
BY SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Aug 13 - 19, 2001
In Pakistan transition is taking place aiming at
separating management from ownership. This policy is being pursued
to reduce influence of sponsors in day to day management of public
limited companies as well as improve the level of corporate
governance. As the policy gains greater acceptance, the need to
produce larger number of professional managers cannot be undermined.
If we need good quality professional managers, specific attention
has to be paid on their education. Tomorrow's business managers
should be groomed in such a way that they have knowledge of various
disciplines, ability to make informed decision and, above all,
commitment to follow ethics rather than short term gains.
For the last two years PAGE has
been emphasizing on improving the quality of graduates coming out of
business schools in Pakistan. It is true that the graduates from
some of the business schools are as good as graduates from
internationally recognized universities. It is also a fact that
students graduating from a few schools are not at par with others.
It may be said that the good schools follow an extensive screening
of entrants and pick up only the best whereas some admit any one
seeking admission. However, it is also true that some of the schools
admitting entrants with a little quality have been able to produce
superior quality graduates.
In this process two factors seem to be very
important in determining the quality of graduates: 1) faculty and 2)
curriculum. Yet another factor adding to quality is quality of
infrastructure. One may say that quality of faculty and curriculum
are interdependent. If faculty is of better quality it succeeded in
designing better curriculum as well as involve students in
extra-curricular activities which improve their overall exposure to
real life, most of the time.
In the past, various efforts have been made by
the government to ensure minimum standards for degree awarding
institutions. However, a lot remains to be done. Some experts say
that government has a very little role to play due to establishment
of large number of educational institutions. At the best, government
can and should curb the money making motive and institutions should
be encouraged to create self-regulatory environment. Any one may be
allowed to establish an educational institution but only after
complying to minimum standards.
By saying this, we are not asking the government
and/or management of business schools to reinvent the wheel.
Universities and business schools have been operating, both in
public and private sectors, in Europe and America for decades. Even
in those countries there is no bar on establishing more of these
institutions and governments have the least role to play. However,
all these countries have independent and autonomous accreditation
agencies. These agencies have developed elaborate standards and also
monitor the operations and performance very rigorously.
It is heartening that a large number of faculty
members working at various business schools in Pakistan have been
educated and worked abroad, particularly in the UK and the USA. They
are fully aware of the working of accreditation agencies. The
minimum standards laid down by these agencies are available on their
websites. What any one in Pakistan has to do is simply download
these standards and rewrite them. However, no efforts should be made
to lower the standards and reasonable time should be given to all
the existing institutions to comply with these standards.
Most of the universities and business schools are
familiar and to a some extent follow these standards. However,
compliance to these standards should be made mandatory for all the
institutions in Pakistan. This may irritate some who do not love to
follow good governance practices. However, in the larger interest of
the nation and in recognition of good players introduction of
accreditation system is necessary. This also seems a must because
the fees charged by all the business schools, particularly in the
private sector, are more or less same. If they are allowed to charge
an exorbitant amount, they should also meet some minimum standards.
It is often said that the fees charged by local
business schools is not exorbitant. The propagators of legitimacy
for high fee refer to the fees charged in the UK and the USA.
However, they tend to forget that while fees is high in those
countries, students are also offered handsome scholarships and even
jobs to compensate or to cover the expenditures. Most of the
scholarships are offered by the future employers and various
foundations. Whereas Pakistani Business community refrain from this
tradition. They do not realize that unless they invest in human
resource development, they will not get good quality professional
business managers. If they want their business to flourish they must
learn to invest in human resource development. An scholarship is not
the financial assistance it is the recognition of good performance