What does 2018 have in store for business education?

[Business schools will likely increase resources in the form of more specialised coursework, incubators, mentorship, and links to funding this year]

Big data, liberal arts and diversity are set to play a key role.

As we welcome the New Year, I cannot help but anticipate what we will see from business schools across the world in 2018. Continuity with a twist will be the theme. We will see more of the same trends we witnessed burgeoning in 2017. But, there will be a freshness to them, and there will be more for us to discover and discuss about admissions, career placement, and global business future.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

The corporate world has an unquenchable thirst for skilled hires, who can analyse and translate big data. The proliferation of masters of data analytics programmes will continue. But the basics of the coursework will become ever more visible in other degrees, such as undergraduate business and MBA programmes.
Most importantly, big data will be revolutionised by improvements in artificial intelligence and machine learning. This means business students are going to require further education in these areas. Business schools that don’t get on board quickly will risk being left behind.

QS will observe these happenings, which will inform us as we move forward with the Masters in Business Analytics Rankings. It first debuted in 2017 and undoubtedly, there will be more programmes represented and more to say about them in 2018.

More schools will invest in student businesses

By all accounts, business students are more interested than ever in starting their own companies or working for new ventures. We expect this trend to continue. Top business schools are trying to help students test their ideas in a safe place. They warn them about the challenges, and give them a taste of what start-up life really looks like. Of course, they don’t want to be left out if the student succeeds.

In 2018, business schools will likely increase resources in the form of more specialised coursework, incubators, mentorship, and links to funding. We will continue to see a shift away from business plans to more immediate, hands-on testing of proposed businesses. You will probably also see more clear-cut financial investments on the part of professors and on-campus centres.

More unity on campus

Many business schools live within larger universities. Often, different buildings separate the different schools. There are separate faculty and administration, of course. But in recent years, business schools have been encouraging a greater level of mingling between different parts of the university. The hope is that business students will meet with engineers, scientists, or doctors in training, and help them commercialise technology and discoveries they are making. In addition, joint programmes can help business students grasp and specialise in another area of study. Engineers, medical doctors, and lawyers with an MBA, too, can bring different perspectives and skills to the table. Increased levels of collaboration will certainly be at the forefront of business school initiatives in 2018.

Alternatives to the MBA

Business schools have been listening to their constituencies, and they recognise that businesses need hungry, young employees. The MBA programme is great for those with a few years of experience under their belt, but more schools are identifying a need for a diverse portfolio of programmes, including ones that are a good fit for younger students.

We imagine all business schools are planning on diversifying their portfolio and looking to offer shorter micro masters programmes, reducing the length of time students are required to spend on campus. They might also have other programmes that can serve as alternatives to the MBA for a younger crowd.

After all, business schools continue to court younger students in the hope that more women will sign up. Until now, women have often been limited to MBA programmes, which require them to enrol at the same time many of them would like to begin having families. It’s been a detractor to both men and women, but especially women.

Even more diversity

For years schools have been making a concerted effort to attract a more diverse student body. Little by little, they are making progress. Changing demographics and efforts to be more welcoming are helpful. The millennials in class now are used to more diverse work and school environments. We expect this trend to continue moving forward. And we imagine schools will do more to recruit a more diverse faculty, too.
In fact, QS has always placed importance on diversity among both faculty and students. It has a weight of 10 per cent for the Global MBA Rankings 2018, released towards the end of last year. Today’s students need to graduate with a global mindset and the ability to work in teams that incorporate different cultures, languages, backgrounds, and experience. That’s why diversity will continue to hold great importance.

Liberal arts meet business

Years ago business students – not to mention schools and recruiters – shunned liberal arts courses. In general, poets and philosophers failed to make quarterly earnings estimates, so they weren’t of great importance to future titans of industry or their mentors.

However, as more ethical lapses have appeared in the headlines and more recruiters demand strong soft skills, such as communication, liberal arts courses have become less of a joke. Many schools are incorporating ideas about philosophy and literature into the curriculum, or at least school events.

For example, Washington University Olin School of Business held “Shakespeare at Olin,” which was spearheaded by the school’s Dean Mark Taylor, who is a native of the UK Dramatic performances, music, jugglers, musicians, and roasted turkey legs were among the highlights of the event. The reason for the festival was because the dean believes business people can learn a lot from Shakespeare, according to the school’s 2017 issue of Olin Business magazine.

Looking at the year ahead, it will be interesting to see the innovative teaching methods that the schools adopt, hone and share as they attempt to improve upon their offerings to students across the world.

Source: Khaleej Times