For a country whose population is less than half the size of a major metropolitan city of India, Singapore has made major strides in higher education in general, and management education in particular. The country boasts of top-notch business schools in its three universities: National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University (SMU) and Nanyang Technology University (NTU).
The EMBA programmes offered by all three of these business schools are now ranked in the top 50 in the world. Two of the MBA programmes that are eligible for ranking are now part of the top 50 global courses listed by Financial Times. The UT Dallas Research Rankings list the business school faculty at NUS at 43, SMU at 58 and NTU at 64 in the world.
Underlying these impressive statistics are the innovations in management education that have helped catapult Singapore as an important management knowledge and education hub in Asia.
Student Diversity, Global Exposure: Business schools in Singapore attract a diverse group of students from around the world. The MBA programmes often have 70-80 per cent international students in a cohort. In addition, MBA students have business study missions to other Asian countries. They also participate in exchange programmes at universities such as Seoul National University, Dartmouth and IE Madrid. This mix of culture, experiences and global exposure helps create a learning environment that is rarely seen even in established western business schools. Moreover, collaboration with global schools, such as NUS with UCLA and SMU with ISB, Wharton and Peking University, provides opportunities for students to be exposed to faculties and businesses in Asia and the West.
Innovative Learning Environment: Some of the key elements for Singapore's success in management education are the learning environment and innovative delivery methods that its business schools provide. These include smaller class sizes, physical facilities that promote engaged learning, a global curricula with an Asian focus, collaboration with multinationals headquartered in Singapore and local companies promoting experiential, project-based learning and internships.
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Asia Focus: A typical MBA curriculum in the West would mostly use frameworks and cases that relate to western multinationals. However, with the economic focus shifting to Asia, there is an increasing realisation that Asia offers important business lessons that the West may learn from. Therefore, Singapore business schools have become pioneering knowledge creators in this area.
In conclusion, what makes Singapore management education unique is its holistic approach that ensures students graduate well rounded with a blend of both theory and practice, along with an increasing focus on Asia. In my view, all of this would not have been possible without the vision of the Singapore government to attract the best administrators to lead the business schools, as well as an accomplished faculty which provides rigour and innovation in the design and delivery of the curriculum. Some of the innovations adopted in Singapore may provide guidance to management education in India.
Focusing on high-quality global faculty, attracting a diverse student body, collaboratively developing and incorporating Asian management practice knowledge, and adopting high-quality blended learning would be some of the things that can help propel Indian management education to the forefront.
The author is Professor of Marketing, Singapore Management University. Views are personal.