If someone asks a university graduate what his/her subject is there is a very high possibility the answer will be BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration). BBA is one of the most popular and common degrees in Bangladesh. As such almost all universities have a business department where they offer BBA courses in some form or the other. There are the common specialisations such as Finance, Marketing, and HR (Human Resource) as well as some unconventional ones like Investment Management, International Business, etc.
The prevalence of BBA students was once justified in a country such as Bangladesh as technical and specialised jobs especially those in the engineering sector are limited. Moreover, university graduates are not too keen to join the industrial sector either. However, general management and executive roles are relatively more common in the job sector. This makes BBA the de-facto choice of major in Bangladesh. Also since students of all disciplines are accepted into the programme, there is always high demand among students. So does that mean BBA is the ultimate degree to pursue in Bangladesh? Of course not. Like all other degrees, BBA has its shortcomings as well. Let us look at some of them briefly.
Gap with industry: BBA teaches the general principles, theories, and techniques behind business operations and often times many of the theories and principles are decades old. As a result, they are becoming increasingly obsolete in today's ever changing business environment. This leads to a huge gap between what is learnt in the classroom and actual industry practices. Many fresh graduates face this challenge early on in their careers as they fail to relate what they do with what they have learnt. Moreover, since the course contents are more general in nature they fail to take into account industry nuances which also widens the gap between industry and academia.
Not forward looking: Building on the last point, most course designs and content are outdated, in some cases decades old. This makes skills and techniques learnt in class irrelevant to be used in today's ever-changing business environment. Moreover, automation and digitisation in the workplace is further aggravating the situation. The current curriculum is not designed to address these changes and little effort seems to have been put to address future issues such as IoT (Internet of Things) and the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution).
Lacking technical depth: Most BBA degrees lack depth in crucial technical areas such as mathematics, research, statistics, analytics, software usages and critical thinking, some of which are extremely necessary to do well in a career. Moreover, important skills such as coding and analytics are rarely taught in BBA courses. As a result, students lack depth in these field and can only improve on these in the workplace. This also limits their chances of enrolling in foreign degrees other than MBA.
Local case studies: A BBA degree does make a person competent enough to take on management roles in his/her are of concentration. But that does not mean that someone without formal business education cannot do similar jobs. In reality, there are many non-business graduates holding senior management roles in many companies. So how is that possible? While formal business education can help a person perform jobs and understand the concept behind market events, what is necessary here is the business acumen which can be developed through experience overtime. Because of this, MBA degrees abroad focus heavily on real-life case studies and learning from industry.
Doesn't focus on soft skills: Technical skills and knowledge make up only half of the skill set required by business graduates. A large portion of it is soft skills and corporate grooming. Soft skills include such necessary skills required when working in an office environment and include, but not limited to, teamwork, time management, conflict resolution, people skills, and more. In some roles soft skills may even be more necessary than technical knowledge and skills. However, there is little focus on these by business schools and some students may even lack basic skills such as writing an effective CV.
The writer has completed BBA from the IBA, University of Dhaka and is currently working in a telecommunication company. He can be reached at email@example.com
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