THERE is a growing belief that a bachelor’s degree is not enough to get a good employment nowadays. And while there is a growing interest in taking post-graduate courses in nursing or psychology in the country, the demand for a business degree is constantly on the rise.

According to Dr. Michael Anthony Vasco, faculty secretary of the Graduate School, more companies would prefer to employ Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree holders.

“They even send their rank and file to take post-graduate studies in business administration,” Vasco said.

Despite the country’s economic woes, Vasco cited monetary returns and promising careers as reasons why many are eager to earn post-graduate business degrees.

Thus, the Graduate School is hard-pressed to maintain if not improve the quality of its program, so as to keep with its conferment with a “superior status” by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and the Fund for Assistance of Private Education (Fape).

Global benchmark

The GS has started the global thrust of its business program.

Faculty members and students have made academic visits to top business schools in other countries. In February 2004, delegates went to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, where they attended an academic lecture in Nanyang Technological University’s Technopreneurship Center.

Last September, delegates went to the Asian Institute of Technology-School of Management of the Chulalongkorn University and School of Management of the Assumption University in Thailand, for lectures. Both schools are among the top graduate schools in business and management in Southeast Asia.

Last February, another delegation participated in an academic trip to various European Union (EU) institutions in Netherlands, Belgium, France and Luxembourg.

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During the visit, Olaf Pries, administrator of Visits and Seminar’s Services of the European Parliament, said the UST Graduate School group is the first from the Philippines to visit the EU institutions since they were formed.

GS delegates have also been to eight other countries.

One proof that the Graduate School is making headway is the recognitions they reap abroad. Many graduates have presented their theses in international conferences like the 57th Annual Meeting of Association of Asian Studies in Chicago, Illinois last March. Some papers were even accepted for publication in international journals.

Vasco attributed the internationally-known theses and papers to the school’s faculty.

He explained 50 per cent of the faculty members are full-time academic professors, who teach theories and research, while the other half is composed of business practitioners who teach practical application of the theories.

“We need full-time academic professors to fulfill the epistemic goal of UST to expand knowledge, discover new knowledge,” said Vasco. “These are enriched by the practitioners.”

Business with ethics

Before 2003, the Graduate School had one MBA program—a 42-unit thesis track. The school saw the need to add additional tracks to suit various demands. In the second semester of school year 2003-2004, a 60-unit non-thesis track and an executive program were introduced.

When the non-thesis track was offered, 80 students enrolled despite the increase in the number of required units.

In June 2004, an MBA major in Entrepreneurship was introduced. The new track was for people who are already entrepreneurs but who wish to enhance further their business skills or those who intend to put up their own business.

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The Graduate School also offers short training courses, which do not lead to a degree, under the Center for Professional Education and Consultancy Services. The programs are usually week-long trainings for company managers.

Ethics in the workplace is also given premium in the business program. It has business philosophy as part of the core subjects and Ethical Issues in Business as one of the majors.

Students are taught that being aware of their social responsibilities give them advantage when confronted with the ethical issues in the workplace. Students are given actual cases to explain corporate responsibility, which, faculty members stress, entails the development of the society.

According to Vasco, these MBA programs were offered to suit the Philippine setting as seen by the practitioners.

Even so, a growing number of foreign students from China, Korea and Taiwan continue to take post-graduate business education in the University.

But only 10 per cent of the MBA students are enrolled full-time. Vasco considers this as acceptable since an MBA degree is not purely academic but also is a professional degree.

“It requires work experience before you are admitted to the program,” Vasco said. “That’s why we do not admit fresh graduates. You must have at least two years of work experience.”

Despite the work-experience requirement, the MBA program has the most number of students in the Graduate School.

Meanwhile, there are some requests to have a program tailored for a specific company, but the University is still considering many factors, one of which is the availability of the managers.

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“Companies have to arrange first their schedule because they have to meet the required hours for each subject,” said Vasco.

One of the best

The Ched and Fape conferred a superior status on the MBA program of the Graduate School last November 16 in their evaluation of 195 graduate education programs nationwide. The status placed the UST Graduate School in the top three per cent of MBA schools in the country.

Ensuring that quality education is not compromised has kept the number of students enrolled in the Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program at 325—with 225 students on the thesis track, 80 on the non-thesis track, and 11 on the MBA major in Entrepreneurship.

But despite the accolades here and abroad, the Graduate School is not sitting on its laurels. It continues to introduce innovations that would give its students business edge without departing from the established Thomasian values.

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