Lowering the value of MBAs will be detrimental to SA business and education says Nick Binedell

Posted on October 03, 2011

Professor Nick Binedell, director of the Gordon Institute for Business Science (GIBS), says that the reported recommendation by the Council for Higher Education (CHE) to the Minister for Higher Education and Training Mr Blade Nzimande, which suggests the MBA should be equal in value to an honours degree or postgraduate diploma, opens up an important debate on the future of business education in South Africa. “The MBA is well-established globally as a premier degree designed for business, which is accepted as not fitting neatly within the educational hierarchy,” he says. Binedell believes that the combination of business management skills and insights obtained through an MBA degree, matched with candidates’ undergraduate degrees from a range of specialisations, is what makes the business qualification so powerful. “The MBA is accepted as a master’s degree throughout the world fulfilling companies’ need to develop general management skills in successful functional specialists who have progressed to management roles,” he says. “Such general management skills are particularly critical in a dynamic economy such as South Africa. Given our past, historical imbalances in management representation need to be addressed. One proven way of tackling the shortage of management, as well as leadership skills in this country is the MBA, a master’s degree specifically designed to develop management potential,” says Binedell. The credibility of the qualification is enhanced by the rigorous admission requirements. “The admission requirements and selection process for an MBA at leading internationally accredited South African schools are rigorous and, in our view, certainly equal to those required for other master’s degrees,” he says. Commenting on the fact that the CHE would like to impose the requirement of an honours degree for admission to an MBA, Binedell points out that “the best business schools in the world such as Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge don’t demand an honours for its MBA.”

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