Is there a right price for business education?

21 June 2022

Andrew Crisp considers the impact that price has on decisions about business education.

Turning on my television in the hotel room while attending the recent GMAC Annual Conference I discovered that GMAC wasn’t the only one celebrating 50 years, the TV show ‘The Price is Right’ is also 50 years old. And it seems that this is a fair question to ask of much of management education? With the world gripped by inflation, the question becomes even more acute.

In CarringtonCrisp’s latest round of the Tomorrow’s Masters study, ‘Value for money’ placed just behind ‘Teaching quality’ as the second most important aspect of a degree when thinking about an ideal programme. When thinking about providers of a Master’s degree, ‘Total fees and other costs’ placed second behind ‘Quality of career support’ as most important when deciding where to study.

Offered 10 reasons that might lead a prospective student not to apply for a Master’s degree, the top two choices are ‘Living costs while studying’ and ‘Being unable to pay the fees’ ahead of pandemic, political, place and language considerations.

Of course, a global comparison is difficult, especially at undergraduate level, where varying government approaches to investment in higher education mean wide variations in the cost of study. Similarly, comparisons between programmes are difficult, with content, duration and other factors causing wide variations.

However, with some Executive MBA degrees topping $200,000, price will clearly be a consideration among prospective students. At Quantic, the online Executive MBA costs $950 a month for 13 months. At Udemy, ‘An entire MBA in 1 course’ promises ‘everything you need to know about business from start-up to IPO’. The Udemy course is their most popular business course, taken by over 400,000 students in 195 countries; at the time of writing the course was available at a special offer price of £15.99.

Ultimately, the right price for business education will be what a student is prepared to pay. And that willingness to pay, is likely to be a function both of what an individual can afford, but also what impact they anticipate their studies will have on their career. For some, there will be an immediate need to add or refresh a skill that will help them at work, for others it may be a more strategic choice about the skills and network that they consider key in their pursuit of a role as a chief executive.

In both cases, the key is perhaps in the Tomorrow’s Masters data quoted earlier which put ‘Quality of career support’ as the most important consideration when choosing a degree provider. Return on investment for a student’s future career is perhaps the key to ensuring the price is right for business education.

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