Thursday, March 17, 2005

Marketing Australian Business Schools

Brendan O'Keefe writes in the Australian about the rush for EQUIS, the European Quality Improvement System accredit ion by the Australian business schools.

BUSINESS schools keen to bridge the gap between Australia and the northern hemisphere powerhouses have made great advances.

Three schools, Queensland University of Technology's Brisbane Graduate School of Business, the University of Sydney's faculty of economics and business and the Macquarie Graduate School of Management have gained accreditation with EQUIS, the European Quality Improvement System, run by the European Foundation for Management Development.

They join Curtin University of Technology (accredited in 2001), the University of South Australia's division of business and enterprise and the University of Queensland's business school.

Australia counts education of one of the top exports from the country. As this article from the Advertiser from Adelaide shows the impact which the business of education has made to Australia.

Yet there is another semi-visible side to the story and it is one which could be the salvation of South Australia. The nation in general, with SA very much part of it, has become a favoured destination for foreign students. What was a postwar act of enlightenment more than 50 years ago, the Colombo Plan, has today become a giant industry, fast eclipsing manufacturing as secondary and tertiary students come here for Australian qualifications because our degrees and diplomas are recognised as true measures of knowledge.

Also, subjective though it is, it cannot be coincidence that in recent weeks I have come across half a dozen people very gainfully employed here by businesses which are half a world away in distance and time zones. I continue to find it remarkable that a state of 1.5 million, metropolis of one million, is home to three universities and a network of other colleges and campuses.

The Australian business schools attract the majority of the post graduate international students, in fact 70% of all students coming to study a post graduate course study in the business division of the university.

Couple this with the fact that Australia is largely a newer entrant in the world of MBA education and international education. USA and UK lead the pack. Some of the MBA programs in the US are more than 50 years old.

In this scenario Australia needs to change things along with the support of the government. The government is interested because they have pumped billions of dollars into the higher education in Australia and they are interested to recover a large part of the money. The best way to do that and also make the universities sustainable is build a strong international reputation for education.

The three things are :

  • Easier and simpler joining process

  • VISA procss

  • Quality Standards

  • Job or immigration opportunities in Australia

  • Australian universities have been very aggressive in marketing and admitting the students in their courses. They created the perfect vehicle for that. IDP Education Australia. This is a not-for-profit institution present in more than 50 countries in the world marketing the Australian universities and its courses.

    For example: I am joining the University of South Australia after attending the various seminars conducted by IDP and talking with their student counselors. They are also processing my student VISA free of cost. This is a great service which you cannot get for the USA or the UK.

    Also, they conduct once or twice a year a high admission drive (currently scheduled for the month of March all over India) where more than 30 universities visit the important cities all over India where interested students meet the admission officers and receive spot-admissions. In a way they bind you to the university.

    This ensures a continuous flow of students to the Australian universities.

    The process of getting a student visa for Australia is also more transperant than say for the US. The US visa is still based on chance whereas for Australia if you fulfill all the requirements there is a 90% chance of getting the visa. In addition, Australia is also flexible in its rules to allow spouses to accompany the students and also let them work during the study. In fact this is one of the strongest reasons for selecting Australia over US or UK for married students like me.

    The next step is convincing those students that Australian universities maintain high quality compared to the US and Europe.

    It is in this scenario that EQUIS accredition is beneficial. It says that these universities maintain a certain standard of education. This is important for a far flung student in India or China or Malaysia who is trying to spend a significant amount of money for studying in Australia.

    This is exactly the scenario which the India IT & BPO companies faced when they entered the US market. India's reputation for quality was equal to the reputation of Japanese products after WWII. Indians resorted to the ISO:9001 quality standards and the Carnegie Mellon's SEI CMM standards for building a fast quality reputation. Yes, the Microsofts of the world do not subscribe to these standards but new entrants in the industry need the recognition from these standards.

    The Australian Universities are following a similar pattern and I am sure it would provide fruitful to them. The Australian govt. does play role through its Australian Qualifications Framework.

    Now comes the notion of benefits from a university education. Why does anybody study in a University, more so in a different country? Mainly for benefits in in terms of better jobs, career prospects, salary and in the end a better standard of living.

    The best way for a International Australian Graduate to increase his standard of living is to work in Australia. This will guarantee a substantial increase in his standard of living especially for students from less developed Asian nations.

    The Australian governments are helping the cause and also solving the labour shortage problem by providing easier VISA regulations or Immigration opportunities. Not every student would want to live and work in Australia and in a similar sense not all interested students would be able to. However, the possibility itself raises many positive signs for selecting Australia as a preferred country for education.

    At the end of the day, Marketing plays in important role in selling products and services. The business schools in Australia are proving that they are adept in Marketing.

    If you are looking to specialize in your MBA from Australia then do consider Marketing!


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