Indian students make invaluable contributions to our classrooms: MBS Dean Prof Zeger Degraeve

 | July 09,2012 01:02 pm IST

MBS Dean Professor Zeger Degraeve spoke to CoolAvenues about changes in its MBA model, Indian students and Management Education in India. Excerpts



What distinguishes MBS from other B-schools around the globe?
We have an extremely diverse classroom: more than 70% are non-Australian nationals. We endeavour to get a good mix of students, and so not recruit too heavily from any one country. Australians are also a pretty diverse bunch at least in Melbourne, where one in four residents is overseas-born.


It's a school that's intimate in scale. You get to really know faculty and your student peers.

More than 50% of our faculty has gained their PhDs outside Australia, so there is a broad diversity in outlook and expertise.

Q. What significant changes has MBS made in its MBA model?
Our new 12-month full-time MBA, which starts in August, is intensive and integrative. We don't just leave integration to the end of a course: it happens right through, with features like Integrative Fridays, which team faculty members from different disciplines take students through a live case study from multiple perspectives.


MBA graduates need a much better understanding of the economic climate in Asia. In response to that we have added a compulsory Business in Asia subject. It's a Live consulting case for an Australian organisation trying to enter or expand into China.


The other great focus is on career mentoring; we have enlisted our alumni to provide one-on-one mentoring to each student. This will be a formal arrangement, with regular meetings and feedback. So for international students looking for post-MBA opportunities in Australia, this means someone who can interpret the local working culture and start a new local network of contacts in their chosen industry. And there is support with personal leadership coaches.


The intensity of the 12-month format means our new FT MBA will be more like a job, with 35 hours of core study a week compared to 15 hours previously. So students will be on campus much more, and we've eliminated a lot of the down time that existed in the former program - i.e. term breaks.

We have thrown out the concept of semesters, instead building subjects around flexible and appropriate blocks of time.


The program's departure point is two weeks of Leadership and Ethics followed by three modules each lasting seven weeks 1: Financial Accounting, People Management, Data Analysis and Decision-making; 2: Marketing, Operations, Managerial Economics and Finance; a week-long intensive studying innovation; and Module 3: Corporate Finance, Management Accounting, the Global Economy and Strategy. There are 20 weeks set aside for electives, exchange and internships.

Q. What are the major highlights of MBA Exchange programs with Indian b-schools?

Feedback from our students who have gone to our two Indian exchange partner institutions - IIM-Bangalore and ISB Hyderabad - tends to emphasize academic rigor, immersion in Indian life, and a great intercultural experience.


Q. Are you planning to tie-up with any other b-school in India? If yes, why?

Not at this stage, but we are open to exploring offers. We have more than 40 global exchange partners and our EMBA programs have an overseas module that takes students to WHU Koblenz and Kellogg in Chicago, and Shanghai.


Q. What is the percentage of Indian students at MBS?

About 30% (including students with Australian PR)


Q. How do you see India in terms of management education?

There is a lot of potential for quality management education in India; the explosion in the middle class is a very interesting phenomenon in terms of the rise of new businesses requiring new economies of scale and management expertise. These trends are already evidenced by the rise in the FT rankings of several Indian schools of note.


Q. How would you rate Indian students on a scale of 10?

Eleven! Indian students make invaluable contributions to our classrooms: you're lively, dedicated, articulate and not afraid to argue a point or be challenged. Your experiences of a society and workplace culture that are very different from the sometimes insular environment of Australia are extremely important for our domestic students.


Q. What is the basic eligibility criteria for international candidates looking forward at doing Executive MBA and Full time MBA from your b-school?

The formal eligibility criteria for our MBA programs can be found on our website. These include GMAT (our average is 660), good undergraduate degree, at least two years' work experience (and in the Executive MBA, five years' management experience), four personal statements, two letters of reference and a Skype interview. International students need to have an IELTS score which must be at least 7.0. More information on this and the TOEFL score required can be found here:


But in addition to the formal criteria, we look for:

1. Leadership abilities - people who can demonstrate a willingness to enter wholeheartedly into the life of the school, who will take the initiative and motivate and inspire others


2. People with well developed interpersonal and communication skills - who can stand in the shoes of others, influence and persuade


3. People with a strong sense of purpose, who know why they're doing an MBA - it's not just something to put on their business card. People who are aware that with leadership, comes responsibility. And of course, people who are creative and innovative - we love it when we meet someone with that spark.


Q. What is the fee structure for full time MBA as well as executive MBA, including living expenses? Do you also provide any financial assistance to international students?

Our new 12-month full-time MBA is AUD $75,000. Our new Executive MBA, which we will launch in March, aimed at mid-career leaders is $90,000. We have a range of scholarships, which are offered to about 35% of our full-time cohort.


Q. What are your future plans for the school?

We are working towards a long term goal of making MBS a global top 20 ranked business school. We are just outside the top 20 in terms of our research performance, which is on par with Cambridge. We have embarked on a faculty recruitment drive to achieve a critical mass of 50; we have been redesigning our curricula to arrive at a more cohesive suite of programs, starting with our new full-time MBA; and we have appointed an Associate Dean, International Relations, Professor Ian Williamson, to strengthen our engagement with Asia at all levels of the school - in academic programs, executive education, etc.