KENYA: Groundbreaking online MBA on the cards

One of Kenya's fastest growing private universities has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Malaysian higher education institution to develop a world-class online MBA programme. But experts worry that the projected high fees could exclude all but the financially elite.

Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) is partnering with Malaysia's Multimedia University to launch the programme targeting professionals in the world of business and finance, university officials said. The programme is set to begin in January 2012.

According to Professor Robert Gateru, Principal of KeMU's Nairobi campus, faculty members from both institutions are collaborating to fine-tune the programme. He said his team, comprising senior teaching personnel, had recently met with their counterparts in Malaysia to hammer out the details of the new partnership.

"During our visit to Malysia, we discussed every detail pertaining to the new e-MBA programme, ranging from mode of delivery to course structure and cost," Gateru said. He added that the e-MBA would be conducted 95% online, and KeMU has installed the infrastructure to support its execution.

"The programme creates a platform for online interaction between lecturers and students. Likewise, students can access course materials and submit papers or questions online," he said. Each semester will also include two to three days of face-to-face interaction between lecturers and students.

Gateru stressed that the learning material "is of a high standard", pointing out that experienced faculty members of both universities participated in its design.

Basic principles of MBA programmes that apply universally will not be diluted in the new course, the principal said. He explained that the innovative programme is aimed at enriching the existing MBA standard curriculum by introducing new and emerging concepts, to boost the competitiveness of students in the job market.

Faculty officials clarified that the e-MBA is mainly targeted at busy professionals who lack the time to attend regular classes.

"They can study in their free time whenever they can access the internet. Part-time students are also keen on it due to the flexibility it guarantees them," Gateru said.

The e-MBA programme breaks new ground in technology-enhanced teaching in Kenya. But experts are worried about its exorbitant cost, which might bar financially challenged students.

"Frankly speaking, the tuition fees for this course should not exceed [those] paid in Malaysia by a foreign student," said Dr Salesio Kiura, dean of the faculty of computing and informatics at KeMU.

But some university officials have argued that since the programme is cutting-edge and tailor-made for professionals, the projected high costs should not derail its implementation.

KeMU officials said they are currently discussing the cost aspect of the e-MBA with their counterparts at Multimedia University. They said the affordability aspect is key to the programme's successful implementation.

"We are discussing whether it is financially viable for both universities to bear part of the cost," Gateru revealed.

KeMU is one of East Africa's well-known private chartered Christian universities, recruiting students from neighbouring countries including Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. With its main campus in Meru, a major town on the slopes of Mount Kenya, the university also operates campuses in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Mombasa and other major towns.


The article refers to the cost to students as a possible limiting factor. I'd have been interested to know what the proposed fees actually are.

Steve Foerster