MBAs: Should employers be footing the bill?

Updated: Jul 22

EXECUTIVE EDUCATION: MBAs and Executive MBAs are very much in high demand across Southeast Asia in the current business environment. However, for many aspiring candidates, finding the time to complete the course, and the money to pay for it, are another story altogether.

Self-paying has long been the most common mode of financing an MBA or Executive MBA, but employers did once play a role. Five years ago, almost 30% of MBA candidates had at least some financial assistance from their employers to complete their chosen program. In 2021, only 15% of candidates had some help from their companies.

Stacy Blackman, an MBA admissions consultant with Deloitte (pictured, right), confirms the downward trend. She emphasises that employer funding is now almost non-existent and has decreased steadily since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. “This is because the pace of career movement is so fast among fresh MBA graduates today,” she told Chief of Staff Asia. “Professionals rarely stay at a firm long enough to warrant employer sponsorship.”

Blackman also points out that, in the rare instances where finance is available, the onus has now shifted to the employee to prove to their employer that they are worthy of such sponsorship. Candidates should create a proposal that makes the employer see the business value of an MBA to the company itself, which includes the development of a global mindset and a strong network, she added.

INSEAD, which has a slightly higher rate of sponsored students, advises potential students to begin saving early and look out for scholarships and other funding grants. “Gaining a place on the course is a great achievement," it tells incoming students, before warning that “financing your course may be an even greater challenge”.

INSEAD also offers a guide for building a case study for employers that can highlight the key returns on investment for MBA sponsorship.

This opinion was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report on Executive Education. For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:

The self-funded MBA army: New trends in post-Covid executive education (full report)

Asian business schools on the rise (news highlight).

Local demand for MBAs rising across Southeast Asia (feature).

MBA Graduates enjoy growing demand (infographic).

Southeast Asia's place in the global business school landscape (feature).

The virtual classroom: Exploring online MBA choices in Asia (feature).

MBAs and Executive MBAs: Who should be footing the bill? (feature).

Executive education: A reneweed case for employer sponsorship (opinion).

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