Making an educated choice

See The Good Universities Guide to MBA's for a full listing of MBA details.

PERTH’S MBA program directors recommend those interested in studying for a Masters do a little bit of homework before committing to a course.

Currently there are six programs available in Perth and 85 around Australia.

Each university provides differing emphasis on technical and practical work, as well as different specialisations, which are drawn from the university’s research specialities.

For example, Murdoch University provides an MBA focusing on business in China – the only university to do so in Australia, according to Murdoch MBA chair John Krasnostein.

Mr Krasnostein believes people are looking to do a more specialist program than the broad MBA program, and that demand for the latter is declining. This is reflected in student numbers, with more people demanding specialisation in human resource management, marketing or electronic commerce, among others.

Edith Cowan University outgoing director of higher degrees Barry Chapman said university programs fitted on a sliding scale between either a qualitative or a quantitative slant. Edith Cowan unashamedly slotted in to the qualitative role, although quantitative issues do come into the program.

Mr Chapman believes the UWA MBA to be the most quantitative program in WA, with a heavy emphasis on research and theory.

This is an image that UWA graduate school of management associate director Ray Fells is quick to reject.

“There’s a bit of a difference between image and reality,” Mr Fells said.

He said research found that students from UWA found jobs faster after completing their undergraduate or graduate studies than graduates from other universities which were perceived to provide more practical experience.

Mr Krasnostein said an MBA was about integrating research and theory into practical application.

“It’s a balance between the two,” he said.

“I think MBAs generally tend to be practical but if it’s 100 per cent practical it will probably be of poor quality. If people want nuts and bolts they should probably go to TAFE.”

Mr Chapman rejects the notion that MBAs are practical.

“I think the word practical is a misdemeanour in education. I think it’s a very difficult divide to breach (between education and work) – although we all try,” Mr Chapman said.

He said Edith Cowan’s program was slanted more toward decision making.

“We are not teaching the MBA people how to do things. You don’t necessarily have to know how to do it to understand and interpret the information,” Mr Chapman said.

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