A MANAGER IS SEEN FROM FAR AWAY, Inna Rodionova
Expert Severo-Zapad (St. Petersburg), February 03, 2014
A MANAGER IS SEEN FROM FAR AWAY, Inna Rodionova
BThe St. Petersburg market of MBA programs gets adjusted to the changing conditions related to the situation in the economy.
In comparison to Moscow where about 80 institutions work in the sector of MBA education St. Petersburg looks much more modest: there are slightly more than ten active players on the market.
According to the "origin" and aiming at this or that segment of the audience all schools can be conventionally divided into three groups: foreign (Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Stockholm School of Economics Russia), non-state Russian (IMISP, open business school MIMLINK etc) and those that exist at state higher educational institutions (Higher School of Management of SPbGU, Higher Economics School of SPbGUEF etc).
The first group of schools being in the highest price category offers a fully imported educational product and complies with requirements of, first of all, those who want to get European business education without leaving St. Petersburg for a long time. The second group is aimed at a broader coverage of domestic business. Director for development and external relations of MBA IMISP Dmitry Pavlov, says, "Whereas, first of all, employees of foreign companies come to Stockholm School, those who work for Russian companies come to us. Medium business that grows into big one, small business that grows into medium one, all these are our students." In the third group a certain share of the audience is constituted by graduates of the same higher educational institution. Until abolishment of the state MBA certificate since September 1 of 2013, bachelors viewed this stage as an option of master education.
According to combination of factors
All expert recommendations for choice of MBA school mention availability of international accreditation as the main criterion of quality: АМВА (it is given by British MBA association), EQUIS/EPAS (European fund for development of management) and AACSB International (American international association of business schools). In St. Petersburg only Belgian Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School has all three accreditations. Besides it the top group also includes Stockholm School of Economics Russia (EQUIS), business school IMISP, open business school MIMLINK and Higher School of Management of SPbGU (all have АМВА).
Besides the price among the important factors of choice are language of the program, possibility of practice abroad and form of education. A good command of English is a mandatory condition for enlistment to Vlerick (remote passing of GMAT and TOEFL/IELTS is required), for the English language program in Stockholm School of Economics Russia and in International banking Institute.
Practice abroad is included into the costs of programs of Vlerick, Stockholm School and VSHM SPbGUEF (program "Management of human resources," trip to Switzerland) and VOENMEKH (one week of business practice in Norway). MOD'ART declares a four-month working practice abroad. Majority of schools has a possibility to offer an educational acquaintance trip abroad for additional payment.
As to the form of education, the part-time mode absolutely prevails on the St. Petersburg market in various versions: full-time classes are organized on weekends, in the afternoon on working days, they are often composed into monthly modules etc. Some schools try to arrange the educational process so that it does not simply go on in a way parallel to the working one but also supplements and optimizes it.
Is everyone enlisted
The lists of terms of acceptance that schools publish in public sources are not very different. In majority of cases (especially for those who appeal for Executive program) a candidate needs to have experience of work on a managerial post. Testing, writing of essay and interview (structured interview) are used as entrance tests.
Insufficient knowledge of the English language often becomes an obstacle for entrance into a foreign school. According to deputy director for development of Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Anna Datsko, about 50% of candidates are rejected because of this. In any case, in schools of the price "premium class" there is also another condition that is informal and can be called "social or business status." Anna Izmailova, head of market communications of Stockholm School of Economics Russia, explains, "At present, we have competition of 1.5 persons per one place. It is caused by the fact that we try to select people who speak the same language and understand each other for the group. A manager expects that he will sit at a table and will discuss cases with a manager of the same rank. Along with this, we also try to have representatives from various fields like production, marketing etc in a group." It is simpler to enter Russian schools but rejections happen there too. Pavlov explains, "There is no competition there as such but there are two or three rejections in a group on average. The entrants write a test and pass an interview and approach is not strictly formalized: if an entrant scores not 55 points out of 100 but, say, only 48 but his eyes are shining and motivation is high he will be accepted. A manager is seen from far away." According to head of MBA programs of the St. Petersburg State University of Economics Valentin Galenko, the university has to reject candidates without managerial record and those for whom not MBA but programs of retraining will be more useful due to specific of their work, for example, accountants more often.
Moderate saving of money
Explosive growth of demand for MBA education has remained behind in the pre-crisis 2000s and it is hardly possible to expect significant revival in the next few years. In any case, demand for this education remains and managers of school characterize its level in the last few years as moderate and stable in general.
Pavlov explained, "Demand decreased in 2009 after the crisis. In 2010, it grew a little and in 2011 it turned out to be explosive because there appeared an effect of postponed demand. A moderately medium growth has remained in the last two or three years. Everything goes on in an energy saving mode."
People from the marketing department of the Open School of Business say, "Demand is decreasing. We have to take much more effort to persuade people to study. Our enlistment is not reduced, everything goes on more or less smoothly but this happens at expense of corporate clients. Appearance of the schools that offer a fully remote online education that is a few tens of percent cheaper contributes to decrease of demand too."
Datsko says, "Demand does not change, it is rather the profile of our clients that changes. Russian market is growing more mature and independent. Students who do not wish only to copy Western experience but wish to invent their own know how and their own ways of development come to us."
To live without status
According to the new federal law "On education," since September 1 of 2013 MBA program belongs to additional education and state certificate is not issued for it. At any rate, it seems that the market practically has not noticed this change.
It is clear that it has not touched foreign schools but Russian schools, especially those having international accreditation, do not consider loss of the state status by the program a problem. Igor Baranov, senior deputy dean of VSHM SPbGU, is convinced that "Dynamic of demand for our MBA program is not connected with a possibility or impossibility to receive a state certificate. Not a single student has mentioned a state certificate as a factor of decision-making." Pavlov remarks, "Cancellation of the state certificate had no effect on us. We are a private school and reputation and recommendations that our graduates give to their acquaintances are more important for us." In any case, complaints about "deprivation of status" do sound sometimes. Tatiana Lebedeva, head of the department of master education and postgraduate education of International banking Institute, says, "Since September 1, status of MBA programs is indefinite and that is why demand is decreasing: a part of people who have come to MBA programs in our institute in the past comes to the master education department because they need a state certificate of higher education." Alexander Belyavsky, director of the Northwestern division of the International University in Moscow, comments, "We have to suspend MBA program that we have had for ten years for a year. The reason is legal uncertainty. Not all students would agree that there will be no state certificate."
At any rate, many representatives of "MBA in higher educational institutions" are inclined to consider this an outsider attitude that does not correspond to the essence of the program. According to Galenko, in the current situation it is necessary to be oriented at the leading business schools that "have separated the master education that is academic education and MBA a long time ago." A productive way that will enable a school to remain on the market is teaching what is really necessary for practical managers in the business environment.
Among the nearest prospects of MBA education market players mention increase of the industry focus of the programs and increase of the quantity of corporate programs revenues from which reach 50% in the portfolio of the leading schools of St. Petersburg already now.
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