Philippines Emerging as Asia’s Education Hub

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Philippines Emerging as Asia’s Education Hub

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Philippines Emerging as Asia’s Education Hub

While the stock market sleeps on evenings and weekends, the ground floor of the Makati Stock Exchange Building on Ayala Avenue turns into a school for business executives, who want to go global. Specifically, it’s one of United Kingdom’s elite international business schools, the Bradford University School of Management, conducting Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Makati City’s central business district for Filipino executives and foreign professionals.

For just about a year now, the Bradford University School of Management has been offering MBA courses in Manila.The international business school has always been at the top 100 of the Financial Times’ annual global MBA rankings.

“It’s an opportunity for Filipino professionals and expats, who want to raise their managerial skills and business know-how to global standards,” says David Esteban, Bradford MBA Manila’s marketing director. David launched the Bradford Modular Executive MBA in the Philippines with his elder brother, Tony Esteban, in January 2012. Tony is the executive director of the Australian International School (AIS), Bradford’s partner here in Manila.

“We chose to partner with the University of Bradford because we believe they offer a real value proposition for the Philippine market,” explains Tony. “By bringing together students and academics from around the world, including leading Filipino business educators, the Bradford MBA is global in perspective as well as locally relevant.”

Bradford considers the MBA earned in Manila equivalent to the MBA earned in the UK. Bradford faculty from the UK fly in to Manila to personally facilitate classes, while local tutors assist to bring local relevance and application.

The Esteban brothers are not new in bringing internationally reputable academic institutions in the country. Before Bradford, they put up a Philippine extension of University of Western Australia (UWA). UWA is Australia’s top MBA program, 2007 Nobel Prize winner, and included in Newsweek Magazine’s World’s Top 100 Universities list. Some of UWA MBA graduates here are now owners and CEOs of successful local companies in various industries.

Tony and David are also behind the Australian Catholic University here in the Philippines.

The Esteban brothers belong to the family who pioneered in bringing transnational education to the country. Their mother, Eleanor Powell-Esteban, put up the first pre-school with an international orientation in the Philippines in 1964, the Esteban School, initially catering to both Filipino and foreign neighbors in Paranaque City. Almost five decades later, the Esteban School metamorphosed into a full-fledged K-to-12 international school in 2010, which is now the AIS. With the seal of Western Australia Certificate of Education (WACE), the AIS gives internationally recognized diploma to its multicultural students. It has campuses in upscale Makati, Taguig, and Alabang. Since 1997, the AIS has been a member of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS), the oldest and largest association of international schools.

Asia’s education hub

The Esteban brothers foresee the Philippines becoming Asia’s education hub and hope that Bradford will be a big part of that ambition. Last January, the Bureau of Immigration reported that it granted a total of 42,478 student visas and special study permits in 2012, 14 percent higher than in 2011. Of the 16,478 student visa holders, 3,302 were new enrollees, while 12,949 were old students.

But as for Bradford MBA Manila, the main driving forces are the country’s dynamic economy, English language skills, and youthful populace. The New York Times last year reported that about 61 percent of the Philippine population is of working age, between 15 and 64, and that the figure might go up further—quite unlike many of the country’s Asian neighbors, whose populations are aging. For one, according to Bloomberg News, Singapore—four decades after curbing population growth rate—is now worried that its shrinking pool of workers and consumers would deter future investments. “There is so much economic activity now in the Philippines,” notes Tony, mentioning the currently upbeat local stock market. “We expect that Philippine companies will be needing more managers and business leaders with keen strategic insights,” he muses.

Triple crown

The Bradford University School of Management is one of UK’s oldest university-based business schools, established in 1963, with its main building located at Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. Currently, the school has 1,000 undergraduates, over 500 postgraduates, and 100 doctoral students in Bradford, and about 4,500 more across the world.

The school prides itself for having the so-called “triple crown,” gaining the seals of approval of the world’s three major accreditation bodies for business schools: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Only 57 schools worldwide have the triple accreditation of AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA. Bradford is the only one in the Philippines with all these three.

Also, such alphabet soup of accrediting bodies is seriously taken by the industry and the academe as marks of excellence for business schools worldwide. The US-based AACSB is dubbed “the American standard,” looking at the quality of a business school’s programs, faculty, research, and support for students. The AACSB particularly praised Bradford’s international operations in Europe, Middle East, India, and the Far East.

“The best way to sort out better schools is to look for AACSB accreditation,” says Ronald Yeaple, Forbes.com contributor and author of the books “MBA Myths Unlocked” and “The MBA Advantage.”

Meanwhile, the EQUIS takes the whole business school into account, including faculty, research and publications, and international perspective. The AMBA is all about students—their experience, satisfaction, readiness, job placement, salaries, and the like.

Around 80 students graduate from Bradford UK’s full-time MBA each year, and 25 from the part-time MBA. The school also has business courses and MBA programs running in Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Dubai, Singapore, Hongkong, and now, the Philippines.

Global MBA

“Here in the Philippines, we now have 25 students from a variety of industries, both locals and expats, who are in their late 20s to 50s, with an average age of 35,” shares David. “We have lawyers, educators, government staff, and finance and banking executives. We also have students working for conglomerates and in different departments, such as logistics and retail. Our mix is truly global while also representing some big movers and shakers from the Philippines.”

The Esteban brothers point out there is no difference between a degree earned in Manila and a degree earned in the UK, except for the cost.

Aside from saving from the cost of leaving the country, students in Bradford MBA Manila pay less than half of what they would pay in the UK. Tuition for Bradford MBA in Manila is now 11,500 UK pounds or roughly equivalent to P750,000.

“That’s just a little over P30,000 a month,” estimates Tony, as David says the tuition is payable within two years. But students have the option to finish the course in as few as 12 months to as long as six years. Most Bradford students, the school’s website says, complete the Executive MBA in two and a half years.

“Studied part-time, the program is aimed at managers who want to develop their already successful career through the knowledge and experience gained from studying at a highly ranked global business school,” Bradford’s website states. “If work or family life is particularly busy, then you can even suspend your studies and restart at a later date.”

“The part-time, flexible design is very friendly for working professionals,” says Tony, adding that students may opt to attend their classes and conferences with their professors online if their presence is needed in their work or family.

“Actually, the higher cost of taking MBA is not the tuition, but the income lost if you give up your full-time job,” explains Tony. Incidentally, Bradford distance learning MBA program is ranked 10th in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Bradford’s network of partner institutions likewise enables its students to study abroad, taking three subjects in three to five days in any delivery mode or in any of its campuses worldwide, with no additional tuition fee.

“The benefit for the student is a truly world-class program, delivered at a pace that takes the realities of the working student into account,” says David. Meantime, the guys behind Bradford Manila is counting more on word of mouth than advertising to encourage more students to enroll. Currently, it is accepting applicants for its April and July classes.

“Our students know the quality of education they are receiving and have been talking about it,” says David. “But as long as we continue to offer the best education, people will come, students will be happy. Hopefully, people will notice us on Ayala Avenue.”

* Original Article - PhilStar

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