Business Education as a Model?

Are you sure that you want to take business education as a model?

Many businessmen and higher education “reformers”, such as Jeff Sandefer in Texas (see previous post), argue that business education points the way to “transform” academics for the 21st century.

The Chronicle of Higher Education now reports that: “Business majors spend less time preparing for class than do students in any other broad field, according to the most recent National Survey of Student Engagement: Nearly half of seniors majoring in business say they spend fewer than 11 hours a week studying outside class. In their new book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, the sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that on a national test of writing and reasoning skills, business majors had the weakest gains during the first two years of college. And when business students take the GMAT, the entry examination for M.B.A. programs, they score lower than do students in every other major.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education then asks: “And what about employers? What do they want?”

“According to national surveys,” the story continues, “they want to hire 22-year-olds who can write coherently, think creatively, and analyze quantitative data. They’re perfectly happy to hire English or biology majors. Most Ivy League universities and elite liberal-arts colleges, in fact, don’t even offer undergraduate business majors.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education points out that even some business education leaders have doubts about the utility of a business major: “Back in 1980, J. David Hunger, the St. Benedict/Saint John’s fellow, wrote a monograph about the travails of undergraduate business education. He has never quite resolved his ambivalent feelings about the field. ‘At some times in my life,’ he says, ‘I’ve argued that we don’t really need a business major.'”

Want to reduce the costs of higher education?

Reexamining the costs of business schools within university budgets would a good place to start.  According to the recently released AAUP Faculty Salary Survey, which examines academic salaries across the nation, Professors of Business Administration and Management earn on average 50.9% more than Professors of English Language and Literature.

Another place to save money?  Soaring administrative costs.   But, that’s a story for another post.

Meanwhile, read the full story in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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