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Quality of MBA Programs-Challenges for Thai Universities in the New ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)
Thailand as a country has been experiencing rapid increases in student enrollments in higher education. This has also led to creation of a variety of MBA programs. While it is largely debated, it is possible that the demand for MBA degrees would continue to grow. Although MBA programs in Thailand are proliferating but institutions with a good brand value are still lacking. The problem of MBA programs is more than rapid proliferation of below average management institutions. They impart substandard training through inefficient processes to youngsters who lack aptitude for management and leadership skills. Many of them are virtually teaching shops to make money in the garb of imparting management training. These so called MBAs provide paper certificates and degrees with hardly any training, skills, and competencies to manage systems, processes or people. This is the main reason most MBA degree appears to be outdated. Some experts believe that most MBA programs have already reached their pinnacle. New crop of students are now seeking outcomes which are measurable at the end of the MBA program- an employment guarantee. This pressure on Business Schools could lead to reforms in the traditional MBA programs. New approaches to learning such as skill-based training in collaboration with public and private sector will help in improving the quality of MBA programs. Many experts believe that MBA as a subject of study is not losing its sheen; rather it has become a necessary degree to reach pinnacles of successes in most areas of organized activities. This paper provides an insight into the ongoing struggle for improving MBA programs in Thailand in context of the new Asean Economic Community (AEC). While quality of higher education is struggling, changing times warrant a change in priorities. Time has come to radically evaluate MBA programs in Thailand and revamp and realign them with digital economy and business practices driven by new technologies in Singapore and Malaysia, the two dominant economies in the new AEC. Objectives: This case study is an attempt to explore the status of MBA programs because of their special significance for Thailand and other members of Asean Economic Community (AEC) aspiring to become digital economies. Methods/Statistical Analysis: Methodology for this case study involves 10 years of personal observations and firsthand experiences in MBA programs in Thailand and Vietnam. The author who came to Bangkok as a Fulbright Scholar hails from Seattle, USA where he worked as a business faculty. To support my own assertions about the quality of MBA programs in Thailand many other research studies have been cited and included in the references. Findings: In some small ways this case study brings forth the evidence that suggest that the current MBA programs need to reconsider their role and value in Thai businesses. Lack of proficiency in English language remains a key barrier. While increasing number of institutions in the region are offering international MBA programs, the English language proficiency of students in Thailand remains very low. The other reason behind declining quality of MBA is that the curriculum is not up to date. This puts a significant impact on international rankings of Thai universities. Thai business schools should also strive to enhance collaboration with industry to improve the quality of MBA graduates can successfully get a job in Thailand and elsewhere in AEC. The message to those Thai students considering the MBA route is that employers in the region have wised up: all MBAs are not the same, and it pays to choose carefully. More so, if they are looking for work in the rapidly expanding digital economies in AEC. Conclusion/Improvements: There is enough evidence to prove that quality of MBAs in Thailand is low because of the sheer number of business schools offering it, the outdated curriculum and lack of industry alliances.
AEC, Entrepreneurship, MBA, Skill Based Training, Thailand, Quality Assurance.
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