Q&A: Time to reflect with Mancosa’s Zaheer Hamid
How does the MBA fit into the new world of work, asks Zaheer Hamid, academic director of the Management College of Southern Africa (Mancosa)
FM: The Council on Higher Education (CHE) has allowed business schools to move MBA programmes wholly online in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Would you like the dispensation to be extended?
Hamid: The CHE should reflect deeply on this as more than a response to Covid. It should also reflect on the way we view education delivery in the 21st century and seek to support institutions to develop world-class education free from confining policy structures. That means an education which seeks to recognise that skills for a new world at the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution go beyond traditional perspectives of higher education. The CHE needs to review its policies, framework and the lens with which it views quality management of the SA brand of education in a global context.
FM: Are some students struggling to pay MBA fees because of personal financial pressures created by the pandemic?
Hamid: Mancosa has always offered flexible payment plans and treats each student individually. We do not hold back a student who cannot pay from attending classes or writing exams, not historically and certainly not now.
FM: What are your 2021 MBA applications like so far? A number of schools say uncertainty is slowing the rate.
Hamid: It is early to speculate. We do, however, anticipate a reduction in company sponsorships. So far we are largely on track to meet our 2020 annualised student admission goals.
FM: How are you moderating remote exams, to ensure no cheating?
Hamid: We have employed a number of assessment protocols. These take the form of individual authentication approval, real-time online behaviour monitoring, traditional moderation and adjusted assessment.
FM: Given the unique business and social environment created by Covid – one that may be with us for some years – to what degree have you changed the MBA syllabus?
Hamid: We have not touched the core curriculum, but we have added development opportunities promoting “soft” and technical skills needed for the new world of work.
FM: Thousands of small businesses have crashed this year. Is this a good or a bad time for entrepreneurs to make their move into the market?
Hamid: It’s a great time for start-ups and new business models to emerge. Agility, adaptability and innovation may give rise to some significant business ventures through this adversity.
FM: What plans do you have for your MBA?
Hamid: Mancosa has always promoted the MBA as the Rolls-Royce of management education, but has also supported the notion of critical 21st-century skills necessary for any work context. Eventually all students, including MBAs, will be armed with these skills in addition to their qualifications. We plan on growing our MBA to build on two decades of making dreams come true for previously disadvantaged people. Our flexible and support-orientated value proposition remains very relevant in these trying times.
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