International colleges are exploiting South Africa's lucrative MBA market, according to a leading financial magazine, which has reported a spectacular growth in enrolments on business studies courses.
The number of business schools in South Africa has risen from nine in 1997 to 16 last year, including one university with a department-based masters in commerce.
The number of local MBAs awarded has more than doubled in four years, from 689 in 1997 to 1,613 last year.
For the second year running, the Financial Mail surveyed 16 South African business schools, among them seven foreign-run institutions, including five from the United Kingdom.
It found the University of the Wi****ersrand Business School to be the best in the country "by a whisker", followed by the business schools at the universities of Cape Town, South Africa and Stellenbosch.
The top foreign school was judged to be the UK's Henley Management College, which moved up a place into fifth position. The other foreign schools came in the bottom half of the league table: in order of ranking, the universities of Bond, Wales, Heriot-Watt, De Montfort, the Business School of the Netherlands and Damelin-Oxford Brookes. Seven business schools were not ranked because they have yet to produce graduates.
In the survey, conducted by Markinor, schools were ranked according to the perceptions of 300 companies that had employed MBA graduates, checked against the views of 624 graduates and senior academics from business schools.
Growth in the number of MBA graduates has accompanied the expansion of existing schools and an influx of new schools.
Wits more than doubled its number of graduates last year. The University of South Africa, a distance-learning institute, produced 50 per cent more. This makes it the biggest MBA provider, with 412 graduates in 2000.
The Financial Mail noted that the local hold on the MBA market had been severely weakened as the industry had become increasingly international.
The Financial Mail also noted that South Africa was "becoming important as a source of MBA students for international schools with established colleges in South Africa".