UK newspaper the Independent and the AMBA have looked into the most likely trends to alter the MBA sector this year.
Writing on the paper’s website, AMBA Chief Executive Andrew Main Wilson has identified five changes that will take place in the world of MBAs in 2015.
They are: the widening of alternative sources of funding, more specialisms that will take MBAs away from their traditional routes, an increased focus on entrepreneurialism, changes in curriculum to respond to market trends, and an increased flexibility in terms of delivery and learning methods.
But whilst this news is likely to come as a positive to those studying, or considering studying for, MBA courses, what do they actually mean?
According to Main Wilson, “Ever since its inception in the late 19th century, the Masters in Business Administration is the one academic postgraduate qualification that has never stood still. The constantly evolving requirements of employers, the changing demands of students, and the revolutionary changes caused by waves of new technologies have been met by a willingness by the best business schools to change the what, the how, and (increasingly) the where they teach.”
To this end, Main Wilson cites research from the AMBA 2012 Salary Survey to highlight a change in direction for MBA funding. According to the AMBA, 29% of responding MBA students received corporate sponsorship to support their courses, but by 2014 this number had dropped to 21%. The article predicts that in response to this fall in corporate sponsorship there will be an increase in crowdfunding, based on predicted future earnings. This shows a move towards students, and those investing in them, being increasingly thought of as a long-term investment. The Independent article refers to companies including Prodigy Finance and SoFi as instigators of this change.
In terms of specialism in the courses available the article predicts further movement away from traditional MBA subjects such as finance, and further leaning towards (and hugely increased demand for) more niche subjects. As examples, they suggest education, healthcare and luxury goods.
This trend appears to be backed up by reality – earlier this month we reported on the launch of a new MBA in aerospace management, launched in Canada.
Two of the world’s top business schools, HEC Paris and London Business School, are embracing the move towards MBA students increasingly looking to start their own businesses, according to the Main Wilson, and are reflecting this by beefing up their own offerings in terms of entrepreneurship. According to the report, “today’s large firms are increasingly recognising that innovation and entrepreneurial skills are vital to enable them to compete.”
The fourth trend identified, which relates to those mentioned above, is a change in the curriculum that MBA courses offer. Responding to (and alongside) a greater need for teaching in terms of entrepreneurship and specialisms, business schools are set to focus their energies on corporate social responsibility, big data management and multicultural communications, amongst other subjects. These changes are likely to have residual benefit for both large corporations that MBA graduates may work in afterwards, or indeed when they strike out independently in building their own businesses.
Further change comes from the need for more flexible learning and teaching models, which tie in to the trends outlined above. Main Wilson predicts that MBA providers will increasingly allow students to enter at different points throughout the year, and that online learning alongside real-world placements will also increase in importance. It is also predicted that individual business schools will widen their MBA offerings across the world – as has been seen with the Mannheim MBA, which is available across Europe as well as in China and India.