Magazine article Management Today

MBA & Business Education Guide 2006: A Return on Your Investment

Magazine article Management Today

MBA & Business Education Guide 2006: A Return on Your Investment

Article excerpt

The cost of your MBA can vary widely. Are you better off paying big bucks to a top school or pennies to a remote but solid establishment? We take you through the options ...

An MBA is just like any other product or service. You pay more for the top brands. But is price a true indication of quality? Is a pounds 25,500 MBA from Cranfield School of Management three times better than an pounds 8,420 MBA from the University of Leicester? Is London Business School's pounds 43,490 MBA twice as good as Bath's pounds 20,000 course? Many factors determine price, including the type of institution offering the MBA, the local economy, the make-up of the faculty and the mode of delivery. But with such variety in fees, prospective students need to be sure that their MBA is good value for money and a sound investment.

'The 'top' business schools spend a lot of money on internationally renowned faculty members and that is reflected in the cost of the course,' says Jeanette Purcell, chief executive of the Association of MBAs (AMBA). 'You pay more to sit at the feet of management gurus. Some schools are able to charge higher fees because of their prestige, profile and reputation. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the schools with cheaper fees are offering courses of a lesser quality.'

Purcell advises prospective MBA students to consider only accredited schools. There are currently 117 business schools in the UK offering MBAs, 38 of which are 'kite-marked' with accredited status. This gives students an invaluable way of separating out the good apples from the bad. 'It narrows down your choice but it also gives you a guarantee of quality and return on investment. Providing you have chosen an accredited school, you can be sure your MBA will retain its value,' he says.

You might also wish to consult the rankings. The Financial Times, for instance, ranks schools according to value for money (see box, below. This is based on a calculation comparing the total costs of attending the MBA (fees, accommodation, lost earnings) with alumni earnings three years after graduating.

Unfortunately, a good MBA degree - one that provides a meaningful academic experience and is respected by employers - is rarely cheap. However, there are value-for-money business schools out there. Many of the institutions in Scotland and the north of England offer excellent courses but charge less than their southern counterparts.

Take Lancaster Business School, for example. It receives less publicity and has a lower status than the London Business Schools of this world, but Malcolm Kirkup, director of Lancaster's full-time MBA programme, claims that it is attracting an increasing number of students who appreciate its practical approach and reasonable fees. 'Price is often taken by the consumer as an indicator of quality,' he says. 'But we would argue that you can get a fantastic product from Lancaster at a much lower price.

'Our MBA course costs pounds 17,000, which includes your core textbooks for the first two terms and a free laptop. We recognise that we're not based in the most convenient location and that our brand is not as well known internationally as, say, Warwick or Cranfield, so we have to keep our fees competitive.'

Tricia Anderton, a former global contracts manager for ICI, paid pounds 10,000 for her MBA from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2003 and describes it as 'excellent value for money'. …

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