Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doing MBAs in Malaysia - Spoilt with Choices: Part 1

I was monitoring this blog's statistics and found that one of the common search words was "MBA in Malaysia". Then I realised that over the last 3 years, I have been talking about GMAT and MBA but can't recall blogging about MBAs in Malaysia. Either I was not asked or I wasn't looking at MBAs in Malaysia. I wanted to do my MBA overseas and I am sure there were many who set their eyes to overseas MBA too. But this does not mean that no one is looking for MBAs domestically.

I am sure some of you did yours or planning to do yours in US, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, France, Hong Kong, India or Australia. These are the few typical countries that many want to get their MBA from. MBAs from these countries are in the annual Financial Times Top 100. In fact, you see these countries in top 20 or top 50.

Hence, one of the criteria in choosing an MBA program is the brand name of the school. You want to be an alumni of Harvard, LBS, Insead, Manchester, etc. That brand name says who you are and being a part of the school's network open doors to career or business opportunities. Of course, this means paying the entry price and being competitive with everyone around the world. Ask any applicants and you will find the big names in MBA as their choice of schools; getting in is another matter. Already some of these schools won the brand mind share, as they say in marketing or brand management.

If you have plans to work overseas or migrate, often it is also a good choice to do an MBA or masters program from that country. One, the school is known among the big corporation in the country or region. Two, you add diversity to the class and probably the employment pool. Very often certain regions are less represented in an typical class. South East Asian, Latin American and African countries were somewhat the underrepresented countries. So, if you are from these countries, you should stand a good chance for admission and perhaps a scholarship. This adds to a good chance Malaysians look outside for MBA which opens the door to the country or region. Malaysians are now a discerning group of people and do want an overseas MBA if they could afford. Financing is an issue and looking for an affordable MBA makes them think between doing locally or overseas.

Often you will hear this term in Malaysia - doing MBA locally. What does this mean? It could mean - either offered by a local university (public or private) or studying foreign programs locally through educational institutions e.g. colleges, education centers or perhaps local branches of foreign universities.

Over the last 15-20 years, private colleges have proliferated. Starting with undergraduate twinning programs with foreign universities from US, UK and Australia/New Zealand, colleges also offer MBA or post graduate programs for working adults on the same basis. Courses are done locally and with perhaps a semester or two overseas. In fact, with the Malaysian government giving private colleges university or university-college status, many of these "office" universities offer their own MBA program, with or without accreditation from a foreign partner university. In fact, one college in Malaysia offers its own MBA program but confers two degree - its own and those of its foreign partner. Some foreign universities set up a Malaysian campus to offer MBA program. In all cases, these institutions claimed that their programs are moderated by partner universities in spite having majority taught and examined by local lecturers. In the end, the degrees are conferred by the foreign universities and are said to have equal status as those conferred in their country. Most of these MBAs done in Malaysia do not require GMAT score.

The other truly local MBA or post-graduate programs are those offered by local public or private universities. These universities do not partner with any foreign universities and conferred their own degree. As far as I know, these MBAs also do not require GMAT score for admission.

Of these two groups of MBA programs, majority of Malaysian professionals opt for foreign MBAs conducted locally; many of which are Australia and UK-accredited MBAs. In fact, UK and Australia are the biggest exports of secondary (IGCSE) and tertiary educations (bachelors and post-graduates) in the world. For reason of cost and continued income and employment in Malaysia, these programs made it affordable to Malaysians to pursue tertiary education. For post-graduate programs, these could be done part-time without sacrificing career, income and at own pace.

I don't have any statistics on the size of the MBA market in Malaysia but it would interesting topic for me to cover in my next article. In the meantime, I leave you to think about doing MBA in Malaysia. Perhaps you can agree or disagree with my writing above. I would love to hear from you why you choose to do MBA in Malaysia.

I also leave you with this article published by the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) in December 2007 - Do Malaysian MBAs Want International Careers? by David M Hunt, Md. Zabid Abdul Rashid, Osman M Zain and June ML Poon.

Jimmy Low

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