The Woes of Business Education
Published here on Express Tribune.
It came as a shock to me when I read somewhere that Tokyo city alone had over 200 universities. If we check the list of most populace cities in the world, Karachi is included in the top 5 while Tokyo not even in top 10. Considering the huge difference in the population and education facilities, no wonder we have so many fake graduates ruling us.
When deciding to apply for graduate and post graduate programs, the youth find themselves extremely limited with the available choices. If we consider the business schools only, the top business school in Karachi doesn’t really live up to its name as the top, however the environment provided and the competitive nature of class tends to keep their students sharp. Having a 50 year history of producing business graduates who now dominate the market also greatly impacts with recruitment drives from known and respectable brands.
If you fail to get in due to competitive test, there is still a college and an institute that have developed reputable standing over the past couple of decades in business studies. They have their own specialties to offer and some of the program structures are not found in any other institute. There has been a growing number of people who actually target these institutions for admission rather than going for the best due to cost, location, environment, studies and various other factors.
Practically all other business schools position themselves after them, to catch those who fail to get into the top 3 of Karachi. Many might offer some argument in defense of their institutions but being a graduate from a “Navy” university myself and having a wide social network that spreads in all business schools of Karachi, I say with sadness that number of business schools can be counted on fingers irrespective of their quality level.
With such a low ratio of institution to students, no wonder business schools fail to take market studies and updating coursework seriously. Majority of them have teachers who had long ago memorized the text books to pass their exams and now follow the pattern to teach their classes, ever improving the art of “rattafication”. Some institutes are hell-bent on hiring those who recently graduated from that very institute, effectively killing the possibility of including fresh perspective and experienced faculty staff. The students are now so thoroughly trained in memorizing that even slight deviation becomes a nightmare, especially critical analysis. Teachers favoring free thought, open ended discussions and questions in the tests and exams end up receiving negative feedback from the class, nailing the coffin of ‘creativity’.
The institutions still have course books written by American, Canadian and British authors that are focused on business markets of their respective countries. Pakistani market, being an amalgamation of East-meets-West on many fronts (or simply compare Clifton with North Karachi), requires market understanding at an entirely different level. With the western coursework we are trying to imitate western market philosophy which does not properly apply to our business needs.
No local author has come up with satisfactory work in any sector of business which could be used as course book by local institutions. The business schools fail to take in market experts and leading companies as focus groups to understand market demands, improving quality of graduates, increasing depth of their major courses, draft conclusions, take in recommendations, implement them, perform follow-up meetings, check progress and call upon new focus group to understand the current market trends, gauge the effectiveness of previous focus group and asses the need for future.
There is a greater need to increase the number of higher education institutions in the country, let alone in a single city, but that is something which requires time and risk management. We still have current problems to face and resolve them somehow. Until the institutions take it seriously to improve their curriculum with the help of market experts and greatly enhance their graduates abilities, the students will always find a great disconnect between what they were prepared for and what they ended up facing in job market. If the talented students want to study and work abroad and immigrate to western nations on first chance, who can blame them when we ourselves are responsible for ongoing ‘brain drain’?