The current cohort demographic average “is aged 38, an average of 13 years of experience, a 70-30 male-female split, and yes we can improve that gender balance″, Snell says.
“But apart from the usual professional applicants for an MBA such as engineers, accountants, finance people, we also have this interesting representation of the arts – celebrities, musicians,” she says.
“This is a COVID impact. Some sectors have been more harshly affected than others, and entertainment is obviously one of them.
“People are looking to reskill and they’ve got this experience as an actor or musician or other entertainer and now they’ve started producing something or doing a podcast and an MBA is a vehicle for understanding the mechanics of that.″
The GMBA award takes 18 months to four years of study and “is very different from purpose-built learning experience online”, Snell says.
“We use video statements on theory for example to prepare students for discussion and it all comes together in live class, in synchronous delivery and interaction, with two slots, although we also record them.
“This is consistent with a very applied, work-integrated MBA. Asynchronous collaboration is also very active,″ she says.
“One of the biggest myths of online MBAs, which I’ve been able to debunk, is ‘hey, what about the networking?‘. The networking is strong because they’ve got access to an instant network. They reach out to each other, they’re adults, all professionals,″ Snell says.
The executive dean of Macquarie Business School, Professor Eric Knight, says the school integrates experience deeply into programs such as the MBA, “whether it be through the instructors we hire, the alumni who come back to mentor, the coaching we provide our students, and the way we construct class experiences with other students with deep industry experience″.
The school is another institution where participants’ actual work challenges are part of the learning. “But more than this, we are pushing our students from conceptualisation of challenge to product development,″ Knight says.
“This model also flows through our GMBA, and also our bachelor of commerce. Our focus is to provide an applied business education – bring science and technology into the world through business acumen and know-how.″
At the UTS Business School, EMBA program director Melissa Edwards says the EMBA, MBAE and AMBA, all attendance programs, have been “highly successful″.
But “what we’ve seen in our internal market research is that the cohorts of those programs are somewhat similar in their levels of professional experience and the way that they learn in using applied learning″, Edwards says. The latest EMBA cohort has an average age of about 43 and an average work experience of 19 years.
Edwards says “the EMBA and AMBA have always had an emphasis on ensuring that learning is directly applied to a person’s workplace and similarly in the entrepreneurship MBA it’s been about applying that learning to the development of your own entrepreneurial venture″.
Edwards says that the newly designed EMBA being launched mid-year will have “a core of learning, about a third of the program, which is what you’d expect in a traditional MBA″.
But “two-thirds will be specialised learning or streamed learning which can be personalised for individuals so they can take their own pathway within it, going between different streams, or they pick one of three specialised streams and stay within it.
“Those specialised streams pick up on the strengths we’ve had in the previous programs. The overall idea is that we’re focusing on enabling change makers, people who want to be transformational leaders, whether they’re in corporates or building their own ventures.
“There are three streams. One is the corporate transformation stream for people who want to focus their ch
ange-making efforts within existing corporate environments.
“There will be an entrepreneurship stream for those who want to focus on setting up their own enterprises or in scaling up ventures.
“The third stream provides an opportunity to focus on nation-building, which is an innovative Indigenous-led approach to governance and economic development.
“We are creating one EMBA program that has two nomenclatures, so that if you complete all of the entrepreneurship stream you will graduate with an EMBA in entrepreneurship.″
Surge in online enrolments
RMIT University reports a continuing “surge in interest across online education” after about 26,000 enrolments for its online-course portfolio in 2020, up from about 19,000 the year before, and says technical skills for executives and professionals are a growth engine.
Enrolments in the technical-focused short courses in RMIT Online’s Future Skills portfolio more than doubled last year, it says.
“While leaders may not need all of the technical know-how to apply emerging technologies, they must be trained to be tech-forward in their thinking, with a foundational understanding of the capabilities they must embed in their teams,” RMIT Online chief executive Helen Souness says.
“We are hoping to make emerging technology more accessible and have found the short-course model appeals to all layers of business, from practitioners to executives,″ she says.
Souness says more traditional programs such as the online MBA have had 130 per cent annual growth in new enrolments.
She says the MBA program “is a very future-focused offering and teaches new skills such as design thinking and technology strategy as well as the more traditional leadership and business skills”.
RMIT has developed short courses in areas such as data analytics, cyber security, health and digital marketing in the past year, Souness says.
Several new short courses in business and finance will be announced within months, she says.
Short courses are mentored by industry partners and students can attend weekly webinars or one-to-one mentoring sessions, as well as talk with their peers on Slack. “All of our courses are developed with leading industry partners including companies like Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, REA Group and Thinkerbell.″