Maryland Freezes B-School Tuition. A Trend…Or An Anomaly?
“These are the best of times.”
Well, that’s the tune many business school deans are singing. After gutting out years of declining enrollments, many leading programs have seen a surge in applications. In May, Poets and Quants reported that schools like Darden, Booth, and Ross had seen applications rise from 7 to 12 percent. B-schools were rebounding. With more applicants, schools could be more selective – and charge higher tuition too.
Of course, some schools have bucked this logic. And that includes Top 25 schools like the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. This week, the university announced that annual tuition would remain the same for the third consecutive year. That’s right: in-state and out-of-state students would continue to pay $38,475 and $45,765, respectively. This defies the national trend, where full-time tuition for North American MBA programs has risen 33 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to AACSB International, which accredits business schools. So how is the University of Maryland able to afford this?
According to Michael O. Ball, interim dean of the Smith School of Business, the school is committed to keeping tuition steady. Dean Ball cited a state-mandated freeze on merit increases – coupled with the university’s decision to shy away from high paid academic stars – as two factors keeping tuition down. He added that other Master’s programs have grown enough to help offset increasing costs.
And the University of Maryland isn’t alone in holding down tuition. UCLA Anderson and UC-Berkeley Haas business schools have also frozen tuition for 2013-2014. Despite that, tuitions are likely to rise. Dean Ball notes that the freeze on merit increases will be lifted in 2014, which will likely increase tuition. In the meantime, University of Maryland students can smile knowing they saved over $2000 a year on tuition. Consider it a jump start on their first venture.
Are MOOCs The Beginning of the End For B-Schools?
And you thought rising tuitions, entrepreneurial worship, and an economic collapse would be the death knell for business schools? Now, there is a new threat that will supposedly create the tipping point: Massive open online courses (MOOCs).
MOOCs are the shiny new thing in education, capable of bringing together thousands of students worldwide. But can their promise overcome online educational challenges? This week, Bloomberg Businessweek interviewed Michael Lenox, a Darden professor on the front lines of the MOOC debate. This spring, Lenox taught an online Foundations of Business Strategy course to 90,000 students in 180 countries. And he’s teaching it again this fall! So what did Lenox learn from his experience?
MOOCs certainly have their advantages. According to Lenox, MOOCs are an ideal way to distribute information to a large number of students. His course drew a variety of students, ranging from a 12 year-old entrepreneur to analysts from a management consulting firm. While online courses are sometimes criticized for lacking face-to-face interaction and debate, Lenox’s course spawned 50 study groups that regularly met.
Unfortunately, many students didn’t finish the course. In fact, only 7 or 8 percent of his students completed a strategic analysis of a company at the end of the course. Since Lenox couldn’t possibly assess thousands of assignment, he relied on peer evaluations, which created tension among his students. While some students met in online and in-person groups, Lenox noted that his course lacked the “back and forth you get in person.”
So what is Lenox’s verdict on MOOCs? He doubts they will make much money for schools. And he doesn’t see them as a threat to top tier schools. However, he believes they can be beneficial to schools if used as a “specialized niche catering to a particular set of students with a unique set of offerings.”
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek