Teaching & Curriculum - Postgraduate professional programs
These postgraduate professional programs, taught masters programs, that exist in many universities, for me, is about building a more professional cadre of individuals for different industries and businesses. Unlike the research degrees, particularly the PhDs which are much more academic—even though some of them prepare graduates for industry as well— but the PhDs tend to be much more about the research, the deep thinking and so forth. The masters tend to be professionalizing. They lift the level of professionalism in whichever discipline, industry that you are interested in. So, if you’re interested in the application of IT and business, you would enrol for a Master’s of IT in Business - MITB for short, to help raise your level of professionalism in that particular area of work that you choose to go into. And likewise, if you were interested in a career in the finance industry, doing a Master’s in Quantitative Finance could really deepen your professional skill sets. We call it professional postgraduate programs for a reason. It is about professionalizing in business and industry as such. How important it is, I think it fills an important part of the whole ecosystem and the whole spectrum of offerings that we have from undergraduate to PhD, and this sits right there as part of that ecosystem.
It is important for other reasons. In business schools around the world, this is the space that builds the reputation of the business school, perhaps more so than in some of the other schools. So, if you take the School of Social Sciences for example, this is a space that doesn’t have the same dominance that it does in many business schools, and that’s the same around the world. There are variations across campus in terms of emphases and foci, but I would say that in a portfolio approach, this is an important part of the university.
There is another reason why it is important. What I have just described is a mission of why this space is important. There is another reason, and that is the margins, the profits that these programs make. These are full-fee-paying programs. They are able to bring in revenues. In many universities, this is a space where the revenues come in and cross-subsidize other programs. I firmly believe in this because a university is fundamentally about cross-subsidies. You do believe in certain programs that are important for the education of young people that are not going to bring in the revenues, but they deserve to be there. And what that is, may differ from university to university, and some universities it may be theology, it may be the classics, it may even be philosophy, but you believe that it is an important part of the students’ education, and therefore you cross subsidize. For me, the margins that these postgraduate professional programs make is not just about money making—we are a non-profit organization, we are not here to make money for its own sake—but the margins are for mission, and that is what I would keep an eye on.