STATE OF BUSINESS EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN
Mar 1 - 7, 2010
Business education has become a well accepted career choice for a large number of young men and women in Pakistan and is therefore drawing attention of the universities and institutions of higher learning. In today's modern world, business education has become a profit source for private sector institutions while a source of cross subsidization of arts, humanities, basic sciences, and social sciences disciplines in the public sector universities. The market demand for young business graduates is increasing and the graduates of top ranking business schools are earning more benefits.
Acquiring business education is an investment an investment in learning and in a person's career and future. The high quality of faculty, facilities and support staff are required to provide a successful business education program. Business education expenses are low in comparison to the benefits yielded. In the some of cases, students are sponsored fully, or in part, by their employers. Employers understand the competitive advantage they gain from having an employee whose management skills have been brought to the highest possible level. Students who are not sponsored by their companies often qualify for loans, scholarships, and/or other financial aids.
A business degree reflects a sophisticated level of knowledge and skills concerning a wide range of contemporary management topics. It also implies a well-developed understanding of strategic thinking and planning in a globally competitive world. MBA provides the skills needed to gain additional management responsibility. For an entrepreneur, the knowledge gained via MBA can make the difference between success and failure in highly competitive environment.
Taking the advantage of this strong awareness of business education in the general public, a large number of public and private sector universities have established their departments of business administration over the years offering degrees in business administration and other related fields.
A mark has been made by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) of Karachi from the public sector institution and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) from the private sector. And the graduates from these two institutions are given job preference in the job market both in the private and the public sectors.
Remaining business institutions in Pakistan are providing more or less variably acclaimed set of training opportunities. SZABIST, Iqra University, Hamdard University and Bahria University are also offering high quality business education. Business program of Preston University is most popular because of its synthesis of specialized courses and affordability.
Almost all the public and private sector universities in Pakistan are trying to train the working managers through their MBA programs to help prepare them to face future challenges.
Many institutions are facing the problem of low quality teaching. But at the same, those institutes are more effective that take comparatively low quality intakes, charge comparatively less fees and produce business graduates at par with their counterparts in top ranked and resourceful institutions.
Business education in Pakistan is facing a number of problems including lack of quality faculty, variable quality of business graduates, uncertain demand in the job market and lack of locally relevant research.
The biggest problem the Pakistani business education faces is the lack of qualified faculty. Good faculty is an internationally tradable commodity, which is in high demand and Pakistan, being a developing country, has been facing the problem of attracting, retaining and maintaining good business faculty for years. Brain drain is greatly intensified by the lack of good local PhD programs.
It has been observed that people from irrelevant disciplines, possessing a PhD degree in whatever subject, are pulled out to decorate the pages of the faculty lists. These people have served the nation in the past and should be given due respect for their contributions in their respective disciplines but it is young people who are equipped with the latest knowledge in their subjects in combination with the senior and experienced faculty and renowned practitioners in their fields that will make the difference.
The job market for business graduates in Pakistan is also assorted. Most of the business graduates are reportedly without good jobs. The main reason for this is the existing business education does not teach all necessary business skills that are marketable in the twenty first century. Another reason for this problem is too much stress on theoretical and bookish knowledge and a lack of emphasis on future oriented practical and technical business application.
Business education in Pakistan does not provide a favorable research environment or a strong system of encouragement and scholarships for researchers. There is by and large very low percentage of funds allocated to research activities and curriculum development in most business institutions.
It is predicted top ten jobs in 2015 would not be the same as they used to be in 2005. Therefore, we are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist. Graduates will be using technologies that haven't been invented. In order to solve the problems, we don't even know what the problems are. It is believed that the amount of technical information is doubling every two years, for students starting a four year technical degree this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study. So business institutions are required to match up with the changing pace of these exponential times by regularly updating the curriculum for business studies according to the fast changing needs of times.
The author is a PhD fellow and a full time faculty member at Defence Authority College of Business, Karachi.