Prominent Academic Warns of ‘Cowboy’ Education Providers

A prominent British academic has applauded the strong desire for further education among Myanmar’s youth but also cautioned against opportunistic establishments looking to take advantage of an emerging market.

Dr John Quelch, dean, vice president and distinguished professor of international management at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, visited Myanmar last week in his role as board member of multinational advertising and public relations firm WPP. A New York-based subsidiary of WPP, Ogilvy & Mather, bought a stake in Myanmar company Today Advertising in May.

Dr Quelch said during his visit he had been encouraged by the number of young people eager to further their education through tertiary study.

“I’m a great believer in – although there are cultural differences – that 95 percent of our genetic code is wired the same way wherever we come from in the world and young people have the same aspirations and the same needs and challenges. It is important to set up the enabling environment that enables the natural energy and entrepreneurship and spirit of young people to flourish,” Dr Quelch said.

Like all markets, the education sector is seeing an influx of new players as Myanmar begins to re-engage economically and politically with the international community. While reputable institutions, such as the US-based Johns Hopkins University, have begun the process of redeveloping academic connections with Myanmar and facilitating Myanmar students to study abroad, schools with dubious credentials are looking to cash in quickly.

“The opening up of this market is going to put a lot of young people at risk of being bamboozled into signing up for irresponsible, for-profit, degree-granting institutions that grant degrees that have no value in the serious market,” Dr Quelch said. “It is very important that young people be protected from these ‘cowboys’.”

Dr Quelch said the Ministry of Education, along with international organisations such as the World Bank and US Agency for International Development, should regulate the private education sector, adding that there is no shortage of countries willing to participate in joint educational development in Myanmar.

In an address to Myanmar business representatives during his “Building Brand” presentation, Dr Quelch announced that CEIBS will actively work to sign up Myanmar students to its multiple post-graduate and executive business education programs.

The school offers a full-time MBA program, and part-time executive MBAs and executive development courses but in its 18 years of operation CEIBS is yet to have any students from Myanmar, a fact that Dr Quelch said he is hoping to quickly change.

“In the full-time English MBA program, we have had students from every ASEAN country except Myanmar. Hopefully we can broaden our reach to include Myanmar,” he said.

A major hurdle for Myanmar students hoping to study abroad is the cost, including tuition and travel expenses. A full-time MBA course at CEIBS cost US$56,800 in 2012, while the Executive MBA course carried a hefty price tag of $85,864.

Dr Quelch said he is confident CEIBS will be able to provide substantial financial assistance to bring courses within reach of qualified Myanmar students who may not have the finances to afford them on their own.

“We have a significant merit-based scholarship program. Students who apply, if they are qualified, would receive significant financial support,” Dr Quelch said.

CEIBS was founded in 1994 as a joint venture agreement between the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation and the European Commission.


Source: The Myanmar Times

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