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26 February 2024

Regional demand for MBAs strong despite downturn

Alistair Benson (SUPPLIED)

By Keith J Fernandez

Despite MBA degree holders being seen as responsible for the global financial crisis, demand around the region for the degrees is stronger than ever, according to one business school.

At the UAE campus of the Manchester Business School (MBS), student intake is up 20 per cent this month over last year, with an additional 130 new students joining its four part-time executive MBA programmes, Dr Alistair Benson, Academic Director, MBS Worldwide, told Emirates Business.

"This is our largest-ever intake," he said.

The majority of new students opted for the Global MBA and Engineering Business Management MBA programmes. Of the new students, more than 50 per cent are resident in the UAE with most of the rest nationals of Middle Eastern countries. Benson said the number of applications at business schools generally rises in economic downturns.

"While a fair percentage of the working population hunker down and work harder than ever in an attempt to keep their jobs, others attempt to make themselves more marketable by adding to their qualifications. And people with MBAs have an obvious advantage over those who don't," he said. And the recession has also affected course content, although Benson said the importance of good corporate governance began to emerge in the wake of Enron and similar scandals in other countries. He said legal processes and good governance are all part of the curriculum and there is a heavy component dealing with business ethics.

However, he said, "personal ethics cannot be taught". Also being added are courses on international and electronic marketing as well as several financial modules.

The university does not guarantee career placements, however students are encouraged to take advantage of its career management services.

MBS runs seven centres for career management worldwide, from Jamaica to Dubai to Shanghai, but Benson said the addition of two more, in Brazil and Florida, would reach more prospective students and alumni. The Brazil centre, he said, is part of an attempt to target the Briccountries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – which have not been as badly affected by the recession as Western nations.


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