University of Sydney Business School Launches First Full-Time MBA Program

University of Sydney Business School Launches First Full-Time MBA Program

The University of Sydney Business School is launching an 18-month full-time MBA program as more business school applicants consider getting their degrees Down Under.

Australia has historically lagged behind more-popular MBA destinations, such as the US and western Europe. But with fears growing of a clampdown on immigration in the US and the UK – a consequence of Donald Trump and Brexit – more MBA applicants are looking to places seen as more welcoming of foreigners, such as Australia, Canada and Germany. 

Capitalizing on political instability in the US, UK

Sydney Business School’s creation of a full-time MBA program, which will look to attract candidates from overseas, is a signal that schools in Australia see an opportunity to capitalize on the political situation in the US and UK. 

But professor Guy Ford, MBA director, says that the 50 students the school hopes to recruit to the new program will be attracted by other factors, such as the economically dynamic Asia-Pacific region. “Historically students have been attracted to this part of the world because of its relative safety and proximity to the great growth centre that is Asia,” he says. 

“Schools in China and India have been climbing the rankings, and this will no doubt attract increasing interest in this region, to the possible detriment of schools in the US and UK where students from these countries have traditionally undertaken their full-time MBAs,” he added. 

The school’s first full-time MBA program will begin in 2018 and run alongside its part-time MBA, which was launched in 2013.

Ford acknowledges that the full-time MBA market has generally been shrinking in recent years, as newly-minted undergraduates gravitate towards specialized master’s programs, such as the increasingly popular Master in Management (MiM).

Focus will be on entrepreneurship

However, he says that Sydney Business School wants to create a new market for the full-time MBA that will appeal to entrepreneurs by focusing on equipping them with the skills to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty. One-third of the curriculum focuses on building future enterprises in a global economy that is rapidly becoming digitized. 

“For a very long time, traditional MBA programs have tended to offer little more than modularized doses of business knowledge, covering topics such as accounting, economics, management and statistics,” Ford says. “This approach is becoming less relevant in an increasingly complex and volatile world, where business models are changing rapidly.”

“Our program focuses on developing skills around creativity, critical analysis and a systems approach to problem solving,” he added.

A small cohort in comparison to business schools in the US, will allow for more experiential learning — in which MBA students plunge themselves into ‘live’ business environments.

“While many schools proudly boast the large size of their programs, the fact is that with big numbers you’ve got little choice but to use traditional teaching formats,” says Ford.

A relaxed visa regime for students

One of the big draws of Australia to students is a relaxed visa regime for university graduates. “The volume of visa is significant and not facing dramatic changes like other countries,” Ford says. “Australia remains a country welcoming to skilled migrant business professionals.”

A big challenge, however, is the fact that relatively few Australian business schools are included in prominent MBA rankings, partly because their small international cohorts do not meet global rankings standards, according to Ford (Australian universities, particularly the research-intensive Group of Eight, to which the University of Sydney belongs, tend to fair a little better).   

He points out, however, that Sydney Business School’s MiM has been ranked by The Financial Times. “Now we have the international MBA, we have our sights firmly on success in the FT [MBA ranking] as well,” he says.

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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