GAZI MAHABUBUL ALAM, PhD
There are two reasons for making a business administration course market-driven. One is the success of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA); the other is the employers’ perception. The business administration programme was introduced by the IBA in 1966 in collaboration with the Indiana University, USA, with the objective of providing professional training in business administration. The IBA is an autonomous institution which works in association with the DU. While the DU suffers huge ‘academic season jams’, the IBA produces graduates in due time. The so-called ‘student politics’ does not exist in the IBA. A Masters in Business Administration (MBA) has been offered since 1966, and a PhD was introduced in the late 1970s. IBA candidates were not only academically outstanding but also expert professionals. IBA’s strong commitment to its system of admission tests, semester scheme within the academic calendar, carefully-designed curricula have also helped to achieve this success.
The IBA was late in offering the BBA (it has only offered it since 1993), and enrolment were too small to meet the demand. Using this opportunity, private universities established in the first phase began their operation by offering a BBA. Success in this field has led them to offer an MBA.
Business Administration degrees are now perceived as prestigious. People perceive ‘Business Administration’ to be an educational model imported directly from America, and employers believe that employing a business graduate will bring prestige with it. As a result, commerce graduates are neglected by the local job market. The composition of business structure in the country is changing dramatically in favour of the small scale service-oriented businesses (financial institutions, product distribution, garment product sales), while factory-based businesses are gradually declining. This is raising the demand for innovative sales tactics. Accordingly, entrepreneurs are more concerned with employing a Jack of all trades rather than an expert in a specific field.
This notion has changed the face of Bangladesh’s higher education, and many of the public universities have renamed their commerce faculties as ‘Faculty of Business Studies’. Private universities never had a commerce faculty, but now have a School of Business. As a result, a dangerous trend is emerging: if all graduates become a ‘Jack of all trades but master of none’, who will be the specialists in any specific field (e.g. economics, banking, finance and marketing)? Ultimately, there will be a dearth of competent scholars.
There is reason to be concerned about the lack of competence amongst graduates studying business courses. Since the country has been following colonial rules and regulations for different course areas, (e.g. Corporate Law, Taxation, Income Tax, Labour Law), graduates of business administration who have been taught rules and regulations applicable in the USA will be incompetent in related jobs. This will result in a clash between older and newer graduates, which is affecting the work atmosphere. A business graduate from a reputed private university explains the situation:
“After graduating from the NSU, I applied for jobs in the public sector. I failed to obtain one, as graduates who had studied the colonial course and curriculum were examiners on the interview boards. Finally, I joined a nationally reputed private organisation where IBA graduates are in the majority. Graduates of IBA are familiar with the American and colonial system and can easily cope with all situations. I can adjust to the IBA graduates but cannot cope with other graduates who have studied in public universities. I feel uncomfortable when I am assigned to the public sector for different tasks.”
In public universities Commence Faculty has been renamed as Faculty of Business Studies. On the other hand, private universities offer business administration degrees with Americanism curricula.