Business schools were ‘used as a cash cow’, says Willetts

Universities were guilty in the past of “extracting money” from business school students without giving them good quality teaching.

October 1, 2013

That is the view of David Willetts, the universities and science minister, who made the comments during a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester as he launched a charter for business schools that help small businesses and start-ups.

Mr Willetts told the event, hosted by the Association of Business Schools, that he had been “frustrated” by the position of business schools two years ago.

As well as a US-dominated research agenda, “universities were extracting money from students, both domestic and international, at business schools without giving a high enough quality teaching experience,” said Mr Willetts.

When he visited business schools, it was often the case that their main request was to be able to declare independence from their universities “so they could keep more of their money”, Mr Willetts.

This was because business schools were being “used as a cash cow for the rest of the university”, the minister said.

He added: “Business schools were not as engaged with the local economy and the local business community as they should have been.”

But Mr Willetts said that under chief executive Paul Marshall and chairman Angus Laing, the ABS had “moved from ignoring these issues to a very constructive engagement”.

And the government’s changes to fees and student number controls had allowed students to push for higher teaching quality, Mr Willetts said.

He argued that “unleashing the forces of consumerism is the best single way we’ve got of restoring high academic standards”.

In May, a report by Lord Young, the prime minister’s adviser on enterprise, recommended that business schools become more closely engaged with small businesses.

Following this up, Mr Willetts announced plans for a Small Business Charter and Awards scheme for business schools.

The scheme aims to establish, under a Royal Charter, a professional association for business schools. Membership will be based on a business school’s ability to demonstrate effective help to small firms and their students to start and grow a business.

Mr Willetts said this was an “excellent example of how we can engage with the local economy”.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

It may be true for some business schools. But I think there will always be some schools ranking higher than others. Reasons can be several: their long history, funds available to them, research of faculty, and career of the graduates. Many schools may not have lots of resources but they still provide some education within their means. DbaiG Bolee.com

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