Career Woman

The MBA for very busy women

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Juggling a full-time career or business with family life is difficult. Now try to throw a university course into that mix… is it any wonder that many women feel they don’t have time to study for an MBA?

However, the increasing sophistication of internet technology has opened up post graduate  education making it possible for busy women to study for an MBA anytime and anywhere.,

Associate Professor Romana Garma, the Deputy Dean of the Victoria University Business School (VUBS), oversaw the development of their online MBA (with course coordinator Dr Colin Drake and VU Online Academic Director Professor Chris Walsh), and says the needs of women were a key factor during the research undertaken for its design.

“This research confirmed our initial assumptions that online study would appeal to women juggling busy home and work lives,” Associate Professor Garma says.

“But we went further than that by inquiring into the sorts of assistance that would be of most value in overcoming these issues.  One of the key findings that came out of this research was to ensure help was available, in different ways, i.e. both asynchronously, (e.g. emails, bulletin boards, posts, chats and blogs) and synchronously, (e.g. phone calls, texts, online office hours and online interactive seminars you can join in the evenings from the comfort of your living room).”

“Then we built all of this into our online MBA.”

The ‘100% online’ MBA at Victoria University (VU) delivered through VU’s ‘block’ model means that essentially every aspect of the degree – including the coursework, assessment, and even consultation and collaboration with academic and support staff and fellow students — happens online.

You don’t have to attend any lectures or classes on-campus, and you can fit the coursework around busy personal and professional commitments. You can complete up to six units a year if you want to fast-track the degree, or you can stagger the units as needed – you can even take a break from the degree when necessary.

But you are not doing it on your own. Victoria University’s online MBA learning platform provides you with regular advice and feedback from academics and unit facilitators, and allows you to participate and interact with peers, using discussion boards and chat tools.

The program includes a great deal of support and assistance, including appointing you a dedicated Student Success Advisor to help you with any non-academic matters throughout your degree.

“This is a ‘high-touch model’ with significant amounts of support designed to appeal and assist busy people balancing complex work/life loads,” Associate Professor Garma says.

She says this need to balance competing demands meant women generally had to think longer about enrolling in a degree — and often delayed it for a considerable time.

“It was not uncommon to meet with a woman interested in enrolling in an MBA and then not hear from them for another year, perhaps because she is sorting her work-life situation.  Many women enrolled later in life when their children were older, and it was then their time to do something for themselves.”

Associate Professor Garma also highlights that women sometimes lacked confidence to enrol, but this was generally overcome by allowing them to ‘sample’ the MBA without incurring a fee. “I would often recommend enrolling in one subject to try it, and if they really felt it wasn’t for them they could withdraw by Census date in week 2 without incurring any fees. I would say all stayed on to complete the subject and often the course.”

She says the ability to pace the work to fit around career and family demands was an attractive prospect for busy women.  “Balancing full-time work and family is difficult. Women are pragmatic when they approach their studies, sometimes choosing to complete one unit a semester, to get the most out of their studies and perform well academically. They also liked studying over the summer semester.”

Tailoring the online MBA to women’s needs is already seeing an increasing ratio of them enrolling, with the online cohort being 45% women in the inaugural 2018 year, rising to 47% in 2019, and with further increases expected.

“The disparity between enrolments by gender is closing which is welcomed as diversity in classrooms and the boardroom enrich the business world,” Associate Professor Garma says.

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