Two factors impeding the growth of Pakistan's
economy are said to be lack of entrepreneurial skills and professional
management. The root cause of the poor state of human resources has
been identified as the prevailing education system. The country
produces hundreds and thousands of Bachelors and Masters that only
adds to the lot of unemployed. The graduates from business schools are
now being considered a better option in the corporate sector. However,
it has been observed that the disparity of emolument being paid to the
MBAs from various business schools has been growing. Is there any
reason for this?
The leading business academicians as well as the
employers say that the quality of graduates from various schools is
polls apart. This can be attributed to mushroom growth of business
schools in the country in nineties. While parents and students were
desperate, the stringent entry test and limited number of seats could
enroll only a small number. This led to proliferation of Pakistan
Chapters of foreign universities and grant of charters to a large
number of private universities.
Opening of business schools in such a large number
provided an opportunity to a large number of students to get
admission. However, disparity in quality of graduates also became too
obvious. Two factors are said to be responsible for this
shortage of high quality faculty and
unrealistic curriculum. The obvious fallout was poor quality of
graduates. It is heartening to note that with the passage of time the
situation has started improving. However, it is also noted that while
some of the schools have managed to create a niche market others are
According to the management of business schools
there are two criteria for evaluating the quality of graduates from a
salary offered at the start and
spent on placement. As stated earlier, some of the schools have
succeeded in creating the niche markets by offering special or
tailor-made courses, such as specialization in banking and finance and
hospital management. The prospective employers have played a key role
in the development of course outline and also by arranging for
Most of the business schools introduce their
graduates to the corporate sector through their placement offices.
They are also particular in arranging internship of their students at
large corporates. To further cement the relationship with the
prospective employers they also invite guest speakers from these
corporates. The greater interaction of students with the employers
bears fruit, often selection of students before they get the formal
degree. The interaction with business community also helps in
The interaction of students with employers also
helps in making changes in the curriculum and teaching methodology. It
is noticed that some of the schools are busy in teaching and not
imparting education. The sole purpose of education is to equip the
students with knowledge and to train them to use this knowledge in
managing the business. Pakistan's dilemma has been that the schools
mostly use foreign books and also the foreign case studies. This does
not give them the taste of local corporate climate. The internship
helps to some extent but the problem can only be overcome making the
curriculum more articulated.
Lately there was shift from business education to
information technology. However, after 9/11 and burst of IT bubble
more and more students are seeking admissions in business schools.
Realizing the fact that IT is an important tool most of the business
schools have added IT related courses in the regular curriculum. The
students have also realized that if they wish to become software
developers they cannot use the IT skills without having the
prerequisite knowledge of management, finance, accounting and
The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) was
established with the help and financial assistance of USAID. It has an
elaborate infrastructure from the beginning, including the facility of
a campus in down town. This facility was created to enable the
students, mostly working for corporates, joining evening programme.
Hamdard University has also been operating city campus and has
increased the number of these campuses over the years.
While most of the business schools operating in
private sector initially started their classes with highly inadequate
facilities, Iqra University first built the custom-made infrastructure
and then started admitting students. At present it has campuses in
Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar. It also has its own
The Institute of Business Management (IoBM) has a
purpose-built campus spread over eight acres. The building comprises
of 57,000-sq. ft. covered area. Over the years it has established two
new outfits, the College of Computer Science and Information System
and the College of Economics and Social Sciences. Its Business Support
Centre provides training, research and consultancy services to public
as well as private sector.
One just cannot undermine the importance of faculty
of business schools. Ideally it should be a blend of academicians and
practitioners. With the opening of a number of business schools acute
shortage of qualified and experienced faculty became a serious
problem. As a makeshift arrangement a number of schools lured MBAs
working for the corporates to deliver lectures. However, it was not
realized that working for a MNC or a blue chip company and education
are two different ballgames.
One of the weaknesses of hiring management
practitioners as faculty members is that they come for a limited time
and their interaction with students is minimal. Other issue is that
they often demand a teaching/grading assistant, as they are often not
willing to grade the scripts.
The root cause for non-availability of qualified
and experienced faculty has been the poor emolument being paid by the
business schools, be it public or private. However, lately some of the
business schools have realized the importance of permanent faculty and
raised to emoluments, which seems comparable with the remuneration
being paid by the corporates.
As such the country produces a dismally low number
of PhDs and the number of PhDs in Business Administration can be
counted on the fingers of a hand. Despite having a history, spread
over nearly half a century and association with the American
universities, IBA's contribution in undertaking doctorate programme
has been disappointing. The faculty either did not get a chance to go
abroad or some members who got the chance had to be called back
because they failed to complete their studies/thesis within the
It is heartening to note that the business schools
operating in the private sector have a large number of PhDs among the
permanent faculty. These institutions have also initiated doctorate
programmes lately. However, the number of people joining the doctorate
programmes is still very low. This attitude can be attributed to
overall lack of interest in research.
One of the prime responsibilities of business
schools is to carry out extensive research to improve corporate
working. In Pakistan, it is often believed that we are doing the
things right but hardly any attempt to find out how the others are
doing. Though, students are required to complete a project/research
project as a mandatory requirement for the degree, the quality of
reports submitted is often very poor.
The two institutions, IoBM and Iqra University seem
to be making contribution in inculcating the habit of conducting
research among their faculty and students. At IoBM, it is mandatory
for every full time faculty member to complete one major research
study during a year. IoBM also publishes Pakistan Business Review
quarterly. Iqra also publishes a journal containing research papers.
Some of the business schools have already entered
into linkage programmes with foreign universities. The prime objective
of this arrangement is to improve the quality of education being
imparted in Pakistan. Under this faculty members from foreign
universities help in developing curriculum and come to Pakistan to
deliver lectures. Members from Pakistani schools go abroad for further
education and training.
While some of the business schools have succeeded
in establishing their credentials and niche market, others are still
struggling. It was good that the government has granted charter for
the establishment of a large number of business schools. However, it
is also imperative that the relevant authorities keep a vigilant eye
on these schools. They should not be allowed to fleece the students by
charging exorbitant fees and not delivering the promise. Students and
parents often complain that some schools have become the money making
ventures for their promoters.
The government is making constant effort to ensure
minimum standards for degree awarding institutions. It also has the
responsibility to curb the money making motive and to create
self-regulatory environment. This can be achieved by creating
independent and autonomous accreditation agencies. Such entities are
operating in Europe and America. The minimum standards laid down by
these agencies are stated at their websites. At the bes,t some one has
to download these standards and rewrite them for Pakistan. This may
irritate those who do not wish to follow good governance. However, in
the larger interest of nation and to recognize good players
introduction of accreditation system is a must.
However, it is also on record that some schools
offer scholarships and also help the students in acquiring soft-term
loans. Globally, business community provides financial support to
students of business schools, mostly in the form of scholarship.
However, Pakistan's' community is not playing its due role. They must
help in mobilizing endowment funds for the financial support of
students, their prospective employees.
After 9/11 it has become rather difficult to go to
the US for higher education. Some of Pakistani business schools have
the potential to become preferred place for higher studies for
Pakistanis as well as the students from other countries in the region.
Efforts should be made to highlight the strengths and overcome the
weaknesses to make Pakistani schools the world class entities.