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 of students.