ABU DHABI // The head of a major business school has warned that some students taking a master's in business administration (MBA) degree may be selling themselves short. The MBA is one of the country's most popular postgraduate degrees and an increasing number of institutes have been offering it in recent years. But students in the UAE might not see their employment prospects improve if they take the course online or without prior work experience, said Nigel Banister, the chief executive officer of Manchester Business School Worldwide, which offers part-time MBAs at Dubai Knowledge Village.
"In neither course is there likely to be a fruitful interaction between students and tutors that will result in a significant learning process which will enable them to develop a strategic view of business opportunities in the future," Mr Banister said. Fees for MBA programmes in the UAE vary widely, with some institutes charging as little as a Dh42,000 (US$11,450) for the two-year course. For students enrolling at Manchester Business School Worldwide next year, the tuition fee is £19,800 (Dh110,850) for the two years.
Mr Banister insisted the higher fees at schools such as his were justified as students "get what they pay for". "If you put a large investment in terms of the level of fee for the programme and the effort you put in and the quality you bring to the programme, you can expect to have a healthy return. "If you invest less, maybe the return could be minimal and therefore it may not have been the right programme for you. I like to believe all higher education is worthwhile and valuable but there's different values to different programmes."
The Manchester Business School Worldwide launched its MBA programmes in the UAE in 2006 and now has about 450 students. About half of them live in the UAE and the rest are scattered across the region. Mr Banister hopes the number will grow to about 700 within two years. The 200 places available each year in the programme are oversubscribed "several times". To secure a place, Mr Banister said, students had to have a good academic record and high-level work experience over several years. The students specialise in engineering, finance or construction business management.