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Online MBA: Asian students prefer ‘face-to-face experience’, says survey

online MBA
What was notable in the latest QS Online MBA Rankings 2022 is the lack of representation of online MBA programmes by Asian business schools. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) recently released QS Online MBA Rankings 2022 shows that the US remains the dominant provider of quality online MBA programmes, accounting for 38 of the 72 entrants and five of the top 10.

The top three business schools remained unchanged in the past three years, but what is notable is the lack of representation of online MBA programmes by Asian business schools. 

Only one Indian programme is ranked: Amity Directorate of Distance & Online Education (52th), which drops fifteen places in this edition, partially due to the extension of the list, said QS in a press release. 

Asia-Pacific’s top-ranked programme is the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at UNSW Business School, which is in fourth place

Based on feedback, Daniel Kahn, QS’ Senior Insights Specialist – Business Schools, said Asian schools prefer an offline experience.

“A recent QS Pulse Survey feedback from over 150 recruitment officers worldwide suggests that Asian students much prefer the face-to-face experience,” he told Study International. 

“QS only ranks accredited business schools; although there are many accredited business schools in Asia, not many offer an online MBA. I believe there are other complications to take into consideration in a country such as India why more can’t offer an online MBA.”

Online MBA

Asian students still prefer the face-to-face experience. Source: Damien Meyer/AFP

Which business schools offer quality programmes?

For the fifth consecutive year, Spain’s IE Business School took the crown for the best online MBA in the world in the latest rankings. In second and third place respectively is two UK-based business schools: Imperial College Business School and Warwick Business School.

IE Business School received the highest scores of any programme for Faculty and Teaching, the second-best for Employability and attained the joint-seventh-best score for Class Experience. 

The top three programmes remained unchanged for three years, but Kahn said some new programmes are giving top business schools a run for their money. 

Boston University, for instance, offers an online MBA for 24,000 US dollars, which is considerably cheaper than a programme such as Ross School of Business (Michigan), which can go up to US$125,000. 

Both are new programmes.

“I think Boston, which uses the edX platform, is one to watch. They have just graduated their first batch of 308 students,” said Kahn.

“Outside of the US, the programmes are much more international. Melbourne Business School will be bringing out their online MBA in the next couple of years, which I think will be an important threat to other Aussie schools.”

online MBA

Some new programmes are giving top business schools a run for their money. Source: Philippe Lopez/AFP

A lack of appetite for an online business graduate programme

Kahn explained that the February admissions pulse survey by QS showed that there is no huge demand for business schools to launch new online MBA programmes. 

Of the schools not offering an online MBA currently, a whopping 92% said they would not be launching one in the next three years.

The main reasons for not launching one include students’ and business schools’ concerns about online networking, and students’ perception that an online MBA is less value for money.

“In the US, international online MBA students don’t qualify for the F-1 visa,” explained Kahn. He added that many business schools, especially in Asia, don’t have the resources to create a quality online MBA programme and that traditional learning methods are preferred. 

QS uses four groups of metrics to evaluate the quality of an online MBA offering: Employability, Class Profile, Faculty & Teaching, and Class Experience.