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How is business education developing across the world?

By Rebecca Taylor, Executive Dean at the Open University Business School

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | July 01, 2017 | International

There isn’t a uniform approach to business education. It is a varied sector that is approached in many different ways around the world. However, it is clear that technology and culture both play a significant role in adapting learning; there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. 

Education across borders

Approaches to online learning are taking place at differing rates; business schools in Western Europe and the US are adopting it at an accelerating pace, whereas many parts of the world are developing alternative approaches.

Many parts of Africa focus efforts on teaching entrepreneurship to support graduates in creating their own enterprises and creating jobs for others. This demonstrates an increasing recognition of the need for management education to address the different cultural and institutional contexts around the world.  

In many ways students are often ahead of the universities they attend with increasing calls for the removal of a curriculum. Although this is a mixed picture, with other students keen to follow a western curriculum in western schools as a route to international employment. 

Creating global citizens 

Initially business schools looked to develop their online programmes to provide more flexibility for students. However, with the advancement of technology and online capability becoming more sophisticated, schools are now able to engage more with international students. At the same time ‘domestic’ students are also becoming global citizens with global aspirations, and often demand an internationalised curriculum.

For this to be meaningful and relevant in a work scenario using international companies in case studies isn’t enough. The need to balance theory, personal experience and real world examples in an environment where students can learn from each other as much as the course materials is vital.

It is important the curriculums are internationally relevant, created and taught by academics with industry insight and experience, and underpinned by research that achieves global impact

It is important the curriculums are internationally relevant, created and taught by academics with industry insight and experience, and underpinned by research that achieves global impact. 

Factors such as reliable business networks that enable a strong international emphasis are essential for developing leaders in a global market place. Annual events also help to bring together a vibrant international community with academics and students to maintain and build on the global perspective. 

International approvals

There has been an increase in business schools engaging with and being influenced by international accrediting bodies such as AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS and the Global Business School Network (GBSN). These help to bring together business schools from across the world to address different business and management issues, providing varying perspectives and sharing best practice. Working in partnership with other universities and professional bodies to bring learning to life provides students with a range of tools and expertise to go on to be truly successful.

This is very important. An informed understanding of business concepts and the way in which businesses behave is essential for students to become true global leaders. Business schools are increasingly looking across borders and at the global context, which has been enabled by the development of sophisticated digital spaces. It has also dramatically affected and improved standards of business education in all parts of the world and enabled advanced universities to support the internationalisation of developing universities. 

Collaborative initiatives 

A particularly positive approach is the MIT-Africa initiative, enabling universities to pair with other business schools across the world and introduce a working partnership. Learning from one another is vital as it can broaden approaches and invite new ways of learning. It is clear that there are several global approaches to diversification of business management and online content and learning delivery, so sharing best practice is crucial. 

The Open University is in partnership with Save the Children India and leads an international project, called TESS-India. It is a multilingual teacher professional development programme that aims to support India’s national educational policy by enhancing the classroom practice of primary and secondary school teachers through the provision of freely available, adaptable Open Educational Resources. The mixed media materials (including audio and visual) are freely available online and have already supported thousands of teachers without taking them out of the classroom.    

Global development

Educational programmes should be expertly designed to enable students to openly discuss business practices and issues that transcend national boundaries. Students are encouraged to reflect and share their experiences on these topics. They may be asked to discuss the most recent financial crisis and its implications on the global financial and economic systems but also to analyse the impact on business ethics and banking practices globally.

Ideally, all educational programmes will be able to embed global context within the curriculum rather than having a dedicated space within courses to discuss global topics. Students should be challenged to develop their strategic thinking in a global context to reflect the domain in which organisations either operate, particularly multinationals, or are exposed to through the ratification of globalisation.

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