GLOBAL: Ethics not a priority for MBA students

A tiny proportion of MBA students feel ethics courses are a necessary part of MBA programmes and qualifications, according to a recent survey by London based business education specialists CarringtonCrisp.

The survey Tomorrow's MBA polled over 700 prospective MBA students from 91 countries worldwide last November and December, in the aftermath of the world's toughest recession in decades. Despite the fact business malpractice had deepened that slump, only 5% of the students who responded thought it would be important to learn specifics about ethics as part of their MBA education.

But, as ever, the message of statistics depends on how they are interpreted. "It's not that people don't want ethics, but that they expect it to be embedded in everything they learn rather than as a stand-alone course," says Andrew Crisp, author of Tomorrow's MBA.

Instead of offering courses that focus directly on ethics, Crisp says schools should ensure that their programme as a whole incorporates ethics into all types of business courses.

"For business schools the message is that selling a programme on the back of specific ethics courses may not work well; rather, prospective students are interested in courses that can be practically applied," Crisp says.

This practical knowledge is what students are really after. More than 70% of prospective MBA students highlighted their desire for schools to help them improve their career opportunities through dedicated career services. Furthermore, for prospective students improving career opportunities no longer means increasing their profits.

"Prospective students seem to recognise that in the current economic conditions getting a good job on graduation is more important than getting the highest paid job and that a good mix of skills is key to getting a job," Crisp says.

Tomorrow's MBA was a joint study done by CarringtonCrisp, the Association of Business Schools, based in London, and the European Foundation for Management Development, a non-profit organisation based in Brussels, Belgium, that helps leaders from both the academic and business worlds connect and communicate through networking.