Will public sector profit from private sector loss?

5 September 2003

Will public sector profit from private sector loss?

ANECDOTAL evidence from the US suggests that some of its business schools have seen up to a 30 per cent downturn in applications for its management and business administration (MBA) courses, the cornerstone of business education.

It is too early to determine the reasons behind this; possibly recent corporate scandals have dented public confidence in the profit treadmill. No doubt a new raft of neologisms will soon drift across the Atlantic, carrying WorldCom-itis and the Enron Syndrome among its cargo.

In contrast, demand for such courses in the UK show no signs of slowing: last year there were a record number of applications according to the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

Yet, like growing numbers of their American cousins, many UK MBAs are not solely interested in profit, as the continuing popularity of courses in public services management illustrates.

Aston Business School has been successfully running such courses for around 25 years.

'The reasons for this are many,' says Ian Taylor, a PSM lecturer. 'First, Aston is one of the country's few to be accredited by AMBA, which demonstrates the quality of the courses we run.'

'We also tend to recruit a wide variety of public service management professionals - particularly from the health service, voluntary sector and local government - which gives people a richer experience.'

'This is also of great benefit to our students as there tends to be more opportunities for people to work together in a professional environment - there are far more working partnerships now,' he continued, 'as social workers join forces with the police, nurses with radiographers, businesspeople with financiers and so on...'

'Thirdly, we offer service specialisms. This means that in addition to the modules in general management, students take modules specific to their profession, be it in health, local government or social care management.'

'As it's an MBA within a full range business school, Taylor added, 'there is the opportunity for people to take private sector modules to complement their studies. Again, this is particularly useful as partnerships grow both within different areas of the public sector and across into the private sector.'

'It's also true that over the last few years the public sector has utilised a growing number of private sector business techniques,' Taylor went on. 'The public sector as a whole has had to become more accountable than ever before and is facing more competition from the private sector. It makes sense therefore that people working in the public sector learn business techniques used by those they have to collaborate and compete with.'

For more information about both MSc and MBA courses in public service management at Aston Business School contact Ian Taylor on 0121 359 3611 or email: i.h.taylor@aston.ac.uk

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For further information please call 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

Notes for editors

On several criteria, ABS now has a leading position in the UK:

• along with Aston University as a whole, ABS's access, completion rates and graduate employability are outstanding (ranked 1st by the Financial Times)

• the largest integrated undergraduate programme in the UK (ranked 2nd by The Times)

• RAE based research income is the 5th highest for Business and Management in England

• in several research areas, ABS is among the strongest in the UK: Marketing, Public Services Management, Operations Management were each flagged by HEFCE

• Aston was identified by HEFCE as an 'exemplar' university for equal opportunities and the access it provides for disadvantaged groups

• Aston is ranked among the best for teaching quality following a review by the Quality Assurance Agency. The school achieved a maximum score of 24/24 placing it in the top flight of UK business schools

• Aston was also the first full-range business school in the UK to be awarded the prestigious pan-European EQUIS accreditation

• This year it became the seventh school in the country to receive accreditation from the US body, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research