Campus

BS at the MBS?

7 June 2017

Students from the Master of Management (Marketing) at the Melbourne Business School (MBS) are questioning whether their course is worth the cost, citing outdated and impractical content, subject overlap and low English language standards for international students as key causes for concern.

Every student Farrago spoke to mentioned a significant overlap in content between different subjects.

“Probably 20 per cent of the content in any subject is in other subjects,” second year marketing student, Tom*, said.

Second year MBS student Indiana* suggested that this problem was due to a lack of communication between different subject administrators, who she claims have “no understanding that students are being taught the same content ad nauseam”.

A large overlap between subject content might mean the course be taught in much less time.

“This course is on track to being one semester’s worth of subjects overpriced,” fellow Master of Management (Marketing) student, Massimo said.

Students are also concerned about arriving at the workplace without the digital skills expected in entry-level positions.

“You expect to leave that course knowing tools like Photoshop or these tools that employers when we walk in on day one expect us to know and we have no kind of background in at all,” Indiana said.

“Copywriting, social media management, email marketing, website management, marketing collateral, lead generation, Google AdWords and analytics, reporting, basic graphic design and SEO are all foundational responsibilities for an entry level marketing position, all of which are not taught in this course,” Massimo said.

“They market themselves as being this world leader…that’s the illusion it gives off but then when you’re actually inside it’s like everything they teach could be a marketing course from 20 years ago,” Indiana said.

Deputy Dean Nasser Spear said that he thought the balance between theory and practical learning was about right. He pointed to one subject called Digital Marketing which “squarely focuses on the areas listed” by Massimo, and claimed that most other subjects include emerging digital topics either directly or indirectly.

“We can always argue as to how much focus there should be on specific emerging tools and technologies versus coverage of other topics,” he said.

Despite their own issues, the students were also worried that international students at the MBS had it far harder than they did. They spoke of an MBS divided on racial lines with a high proportion of Chinese international students whose English was so poor that domestic students avoided engaging in group work with them.

“It’s not a melting pot, despite the huge number of international students. People stick to their own kind and it makes me very uncomfortable,” said Tom.

Massimo said the current English requirements are unfair on the students themselves.

“I have witnessed students copy and pasting entire lecture slides into a translator seemingly just to actually understand what is being taught during the lecture,” Massimo said.

Spear defended the capabilities of international students. “We’re talking about highly capable international students who can contribute significantly to the learning environment of the university and the faculty,” he said. “You have to understand that yes this is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to learn how to engage under difficult circumstances.”

Spear said the MBS provides student employability and enrichment programs for students lacking communication skills in addition to support provided by the University of Melbourne.

“Those programs are offered free of charge to all the students, and we ask that students attend them. They are not mandatory. The participation rate is not 100 per cent, it’s not even 50 per cent. So we are trying to get more students to engage in those programs.”

President of the University of Melbourne Student Union International, Sander Brendal, said he is frequently approached by international students who are reluctant to use these resources.

“One reason that has been cited is fear of not being allowed to continue their studies if it comes to show that their English proficiency is not in line with their English language scores. This is not true. Students who struggle with English will not lose their enrolment,” Brendal said.

“Students might be hesitant to take use of services because they feel uncomfortable admitting their struggles Stigma may be a cause of this,” he said.

Spear said he could not deny that the MBS has a diversity issue.

“Can you fix somebody’s communication skills within one semester? You can’t. But I do the welcome speech and I do the graduation ceremony and the graduation dinner. I can see probably in no less than 80-90% of the cases there is a huge difference between where the international students come in at and where they end up at.”

The degree is set to have two reviews in 2017/2018.

*Names have been changed to protect sources.