If anyone wanted a ‘perfect storm’ of factors to make young professionals feel nervous about the future, they’d be hard pressed to find a more potent combination than a global pandemic followed by the threat of recession. But that’s just what confronts young Australians in the workforce today.
Faced with an uncertain labour market, the exponential march of technology, and a looming climate crisis, many workers are reacting in most the obvious way they can – by upskilling themselves for a less predictable, more competitive world.
One of the most widely-recognised pathways for increasing one’s employability is the Master of Business Administration, which provides a wide range of management, finance and technology skills, as well as various keystones of corporate responsibility – such as quality management and sustainable marketing.
On average it costs around $60,000 to complete an MBA with an Australian university, but if you’re starting off in life – and may already have a young family or a mortgage – there are various offerings from independent higher education providers that come with more reasonable price-tags. There are also pathways to these skills for young people who haven’t yet set foot in a university.
At the Victorian Institute of Technology, the mission statement is that “a quality education should be affordable and accessible for all”. It’s a bold statement that the 40 PhD-qualified MBA lecturers take extremely seriously.
Dr Priyantha Bandara leads a team that evaluates applications for VIT’s popular Graduate Certificate of Business Administration, which allows working people without an undergraduate degree to enter the institute’s acclaimed MBA program.
“If you have a few years’ management experience you can enter the Graduate Certificate and complete four units of study, which cover core components of our MBA program and allow you to continue onto the full program,” explains Dr Bandara.
These units cover four core tenets of management – marketing, administration, logistics and decision-making – which together provide a solid grounding in the strategic and analytical skills required to undertake an MBA. “If you don’t want to continue onto an MBA, you’ll receive a Graduate Diploma, so employers will be able to see that you’ve had a foundational education in these subjects,” says Dr Bandara.
Alternative online pathways
Since its registration as an Institute of Higher Education in 2014, VIT has pursued a strong focus on making its academic offerings as affordable as possible, both for domestic and international students. Earlier this year, it took the bold step of putting all its MBA units online for a single $99 annual registration fee – becoming the first private education provider in Australia to do so.
While the 16 Units as ‘microcredentials’ do not lead to a formal qualification, they offer a unique chance for a student to try out the MBA units that appeal to them – including all lectures, presentations and assessments – before committing to a full course of study.
VIT’s Full-time MBA Program, often held up as an exemplar of affordability, comes in at $48,000 for the on-campus program, or $16,000 for an Australian citizen studying the online course – equivalent to $1,000 for each of the 16 units. The online MBA requires students to attend three-hour lectures on two evenings a week – completing two six-week units in each of five ‘block terms’ during the year.
This ‘self-directed’ MBA, done at students’ own pace, has become so popular that VIT saw its online cohort more than double in size during the COVID pandemic – bolstered by large numbers of students using the lockdowns to boost their professional credentials.