Cast of thousands

I hate to draw attention to this one particular institution, but a full-page ad in my morning paper from the faculty of business at Athabasca University announced the graduates from its MBA program. There were 172 of them!

A string of universities, some of them better known, have recently run similar ads. The Financial Post published an article saying 4,000 international students come to Canada annually to do graduate work in business management and administration at Canadian universities. Not all are taking MBAs, but whatever the proportion is, when you add Canadian MBA grads, the annual total must be in the thousands.

Time was when an MBA was a real cachet. Harvard Business School was the best and attracted Canadians such as Bill Wilder, Purdy Crawford and Robin Korthals who went on to be top-ranked executives. The business school at the University of Western Ontario followed the Harvard case study method and established itself for years as the best in Canada.

Today there are a score of schools in Canada and multiple ways to get an MBA including the executive MBA where you work at the same time and attend videoconference classes on weekends. As for full-time students what used to take two years has been crammed into one. Online degrees are possible at the aforementioned Athabasca.

I can’t believe the quality is equal everywhere nor that anything like a majority of all MBA grads in Canada will find jobs in their chosen fields. At the Ivey Business School, tuition is $84,000. MBAs have just become a way for universities to generate income. Learning and finding a proper place in society are no longer the goals. Shame on those educators who have forgotten their true purpose.


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