Not our business

November 15, 2002

Alan Shipman's claim that the MBA might not be worth the paper it is printed on ("Is the masterplan coming unstuck?", THES , November 8) is true only for a minority of graduates.

There are more than 130 MBA providers in the UK, but only 36 are accredited by the Association of MBAs. Graduates from accredited schools make up 56 per cent of the total, and numerous MBA salary and careers surveys reveal that they benefit greatly from investing in their careers. Employers also believe in the MBA. Eighty per cent of British MBA graduates study part time or via distance learning and more than half are sponsored by employers.

Shipman incorrectly implies that MBAs are responsible for everything wrong in industry, from rogue-trading Nick Leesons to diverting education resources to an elite.

But UK plc is not run by MBAs. There are 3.9 million managers and senior officials in the UK, according to the Labour Force Survey, yet only 10,700 MBAs graduate each year. Some 3,500 of these are overseas students.

A more obvious reason for the "productivity deficit" might be insufficient investment in postgraduate education. Adjusting for population, the UK graduates only a quarter of the US number of MBAs.

Business schools make a huge contribution to UK plc. They not only produce professional managers but also bring in fees from overseas students of more than £100 million a year. Point the accusing finger elsewhere, please.

Peter Calladine
Educational services manager
Association of MBAs

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