MBA From LUMS, Is It Really Worth It?
The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) or what they call the “Harvard of Pakistan” offers a rigorous two year Masters in Business Administration program. The fact is unlike other MBA programs in Pakistan, only a handful of aspirants are fortunate enough to pass through the admission threshold.
Although the university is known to have one of the best degree programs in engineering, social sciences, education, law and etc. It was the flagship MBA program that was launched back in 1986 that transformed the institution into one of the best. However for the last three decades or so LUMS has become the leading undergraduate institution in the country, the question is does that success comes at the cost of their MBA program?
In a quote to Profit by Pakistan Today, the recently appointed Dean of SDSB (Suleman Dawood School for Business), Dr. Ali Noor Bhimani said,
“My view is that whatever we do here at LUMS in terms of the education we provide or in terms of some of the changes that we will talk about later on, I think those are kind of echoed and mirrored by other institutions here,” says Dr. Bhimani. “Changes that Harvard makes have minimal impact in the US. Changes that LUMS makes in Pakistan have a massive impact in a circular sort of sense.”
Bhimani was critical of the comparison with Harvard while talking to Pakistan Today.
“With some 4,000 plus students and only 60-65 coming in for the MBA programme each year in a country with a population of 210 million, the impact is absolutely massive.“,Bhimani added.
The program itself is rather unique in terms of its design. It may be the well-thought-out mechanism of the program that makes it the best in the country. According to academic experts, what differentiates LUMS from other MBA programs, at least on a relative scale is the “case-based” methodology.
As much as the case based methodology is appreciated on and off campus, it may be argued that most of the cases are drawn out from previous studies conducted at Harvard, Berkley, UCLA, UPENN and top-notch business school of the world. Students, who undergo hundreds of cases during their MBA, do they benefit from them in their professional journey later on?
Well for some they do, while others think the overall process and rigor one has to undergo at LUMS nurtures them to be industry leaders.
When it comes to a localized option, LUMS might be the “best of the best”, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan corroborates to that fact. On a relative scale, some might conform with the HEC however others do not wish to consider LUMS as their MBA destination. Thousands of undergraduates leaving LUMS every year don’t wish to pursue their MBA from the same institution.
While talking to Naya Daur some of the undergraduates were of the view that after an undergraduate degree from LUMS, they would like to explore other options for their post-graduate education.
Fatimeh Hashim, who is a sociology and anthropology major from LUMS was of the view that the postgraduate programs, in general, are rather limited for someone who does not belong to Lahore.
“I feel I should rather go to a university even better and more globally recognized than LUMS after doing my undergrad from here”
“Had I done my undergraduate from a university that isn’t as good as Lums, I would’ve considered MBA here”
Hamza Latif who is currently pursuing his undergraduate in Management Sciences was particularly concerned about the MBA faculty. Hamza belongs to the Suleman Dawood School for Business which offers the flagship MBA program. As part of SDSB Hamza is acquainted with faculty who teach both undergraduate and MBA at the same time.
For anyone who ends up as a LUMS MBA is a testament to how LUMS was their priority. One of the reasons for it to be a priority is the financial leeway it provides as compared to an international MBA program. As per the fee structure, the LUMS MBA costs around 2 to 3 million rupees while an international MBA might hike up to 8 to 10 million rupees.
To cater to market competition, Naya Daur talked to students from another business school that would arguably be as good as LUMS. The Institute of Business Administration which dates back to 1955 has its own MBA program. Situated in the financial capital of the country, Karachi, IBA offers a distinct MBA program catering to a much larger student body as compared to LUMS.
Hashim Zaman who is pursuing his undergraduate from IBA in a conversation with Naya Daur said he won’t go for LUMS after he finishes up at IBA.
“I think IBA offers an equally competitive program”, Zaman added.
“Most of IBA students get a management trainee offer from different firms and once they enter the industry, they can’t really dedicate themselves to a full-time MBA program.”
It is pertained to mention here that just recently LUMS was honored with Advance Collegiate Schools of Business Accreditation (AACSB), only 850 schools in the world have the same accreditation and LUMS stands as one of them.
MBA vs Entrepreneurship
In this day and age of globalization and entrepreneurship, the question stands whether one would like to peruse an MBA with perks and accreditations or an entrepreneurial venture?
Is an MBA, the death of entrepreneurship? With a stagnant and recessive economy, the job market is already in a bad shape, in times like these are students better of doing an MBA?
For what it’s worth a lot of business leaders are of the view that students are much better off with doing something of their own. Something that pertains to innovation rather than abiding by the corporate hierarchy.
In terms of opportunity cost, some students might prefer investing the same two to three million rupees in their ventures rather than an upfront fee to educational institutions like LUMS. Others might be looking to take on the family business and would like to associate themselves with a prestigious institute.
In the midst of self-esteem and corporate vision, will they be any better without such a degree? Although LUMS promises to produce top managers who are ready to take on the corporate world but are they, good leaders, as well? Do they have the ability to undertake the necessary risk for an entrepreneurial venture?
Such questions still stand unanswered and might as well remain to do so.
Some of the industry leaders despite lucrative MBAs claim to have learned much more from hands-on experience and years into their respective fields as compared to their education. This brings us to the usefulness of an MBA program.
It may not be a catalyst for success but when it comes to an MBA degree or no degree at all, students tend to opt for the former.