If you ask people what they consider the world’s most prestigious business degree, most are likely to answer, “An MBA.” Indeed, the Master of Business Administration remains a hugely popular business degree and still impresses many employers.
Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Denmark are among 29 countries where interest in the MBA is at a nine-year high. There are a number of growing Asian and South American countries on the same list.
But Africa is bucking the trend. New research by the Association of African Business Schools (AABS) reveals what the continent’s large youth population – and it’s very different to the traditional MBA model.
Short, sharp and online
The research shows that many African students simply don’t believe an MBA is relevant to their needs. They prefer shorter, more modular business courses and want these to combine elements of blended learning – such as online components – with contact time. Students also want more flexibility than is built into traditional business education programmes.
There is also a move towards shorter and more hands on programmes and services. These include executive education, quick interventions and business support services.
Both these trends are being driven by an increased access to technology and the rapid development of new online learning applications.
Do it yourself
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2014 report described young people in sub-Saharan Africa as among the most entrepreneurial in the world.
Several African countries are recording strong economic growth. Despite this, unemployment is rising – which explains why many young Africans are looking for ways to go it alone.
Traditionally, low education levels have posed a major barrier to such entrepreneurship. But post-school entrepreneurial business education is on the rise – and that must be at least partly responsible for what the 2014 report found and what is echoed by the AABS report.
Numerous business incubators and entrepreneurial programmes have sprung up across the continent. Entrepreneurship is increasingly part of most business schools’ core offerings rather than being just an add-on or elective.
An entrepreneurial network for Africa’s business schools, the African Academic Association on Entrepreneurship’s, was launched in 2015.
This underscores the growing value that is being placed on entrepreneurship education. It also reflects another trend: the increase in partnerships and support networks. Nearly 80% of the business schools surveyed have ties with international business schools. 82% have links with schools within Africa.