For many colleges and universities worldwide, meeting the seemingly endless demand for the master's degree in business administration (MBA) has resulted in a vast expansion in business education programmes. Ukraine is no exception, with over 300 universities, colleges, academies and institutes around the country authorised by the ministry of education to provide degree-level business training.
However, the unfortunate truth is that most of this training is inadequate and only about a half-dozen of the MBA programmes in Ukraine come anywhere near reaching standards that would be accepted in Europe or North America.
Perhaps the greatest impact for those persons in Ukraine seeking high quality business education has come through programmes subsidised by a number of foreign governments in Europe, North America and Japan. The programmes with the largest numbers of openings and thought to be generally most desirable are those financed by the US, particularly the Muskie programme, named after former US senator who initiated the legislation to set up the programme.
Today, there are hundreds of young Ukrainians in their late twenties to mid-thirties who have completed such foreign educational programmes and now occupy supervisory to middle management level jobs in some of Ukraine's leading banks, businesses and industrial firms.
However, each year, tens of thousands of recent high school graduates and others already employed find their efforts to seek an MBA stymied by a combination of factors: the low quality and relatively high cost of most MBA programmes in the country; the very limited number of available places in the foreign government subsidised programmes and finally, the high cost of those few MBA programmes in Ukraine that come close to meeting international standards.
One recent development seems to partly address the situation. Rowan University of New Jersey, which first gained fame under its previous name, Glassboro State College, when it hosted the 1967 meetings of US President Lyndon Johnson and USSR Premier Alexei Kosygin, has concluded an agreement to implement joint business training programmes in Ukraine.
Working together, Rowan University's School of Business and its College of Professional and Continuing Education have developed considerable expertise in Six Sigma, an advanced management system that has been adopted worldwide by such industrial giants as Toyota and Motorola.
Just a few weeks ago, the first team of faculty members from Rowan arrived in Donetsk, in Ukraine's Donbas region, famous since tsarist times as a centre of coal mining and related chemical technologies.
Sponsored by the Donetsk Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with Sterling Business School of Ukraine (SBS), the Rowan faculty members spent two days in very intense training of a group of more than 40 Donetsk region managers and supervisors. The methods, which include not only lectures but also role play simulations, were new to most of the students, but they soon grasped and embraced the concepts and showed their appreciation of the pace of the training. At the end of the programme, the students were given certificates attesting to their completion of the first phase of the Six Sigma training cycle.
"We believe our partnership with Rowan, built around a building-block concept of highly sophisticated short-term training programs, will soon lead to a fully developed system that takes advantages of such technologies as distance video conferencing to bring higher quality business education to Ukraine with greater efficiency and at lower cost," commented SBS founder Reno Domenico, a New Jersey educator who recently retired from the state educational system in order to further his 15-year long association with schools in Ukraine.
Looking at future development, Gennady Chizhikov, the Donetsk chamber president, told OBG, "It is our hope that within the near future we will be able to offer here in Donetsk an MBA programme tailored to the needs of our emerging industrial business managers. I believe our partners, Rowan University and Sterling Business School, share this goal."