Friday 22 January 2010

Business degrees

Inside Higher Ed reports a substantial drop in freshmen choosing business majors: a one year decline from 16.8% to 14.4%.

Alas, it's not due to freshmen recognizing that business degrees are often heavily constrained by AACSB regs.

Rather, they're chalking it up to general antipathy about business:
Also, in one year, the percentage of freshmen who listed their "probable career" as one in business dropped from 14.1 percent to 12.1 percent. This is an all-time low for the survey; the previous low was in 2003, when 13.8 percent reported that their goal was a career in business.

“I think that a business career doesn’t look as appealing as it once did, nor does it come with a guarantee of being well-off financially as in the past,” said Linda DeAngelo, co-author of the accompanying report and assistant director of research for the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at HERI. “Some of that can definitely be attributed to the general sense that we spent a lot of time over the past year raking business executives and people in high finance over the coals. There’s certainly a trickle down, and I don’t think high school students are immune to that overall feeling about business.”
From the report:

As best I'm aware, we haven't seen any such shift in enrollments at Canterbury, but I certainly wouldn't mind at all if more of our Econ majors did it through Arts or Science.


  1. I often think that New Zealand in particular disadvantages itself by its rigid requirements from professional bodies that mean that an honours student with a BA or a BSc would have to go back to the start to switch career.

    The UK in particular recognise their undergraduate degrees to be worth more than just the course content, meaning that accelerated law degrees are available for graduates and accounting bodies accept any high quality honours degree to start training; over the ditch, Australia's main accounting bodies do their conversion courses for non-accounting majors. In New Zealand, however, if a BA or a BSc wanted to train as an accountant or in law then they'd have to pretty much go back and do another three years.

    It's no wonder there's a shortage of certain professions over here - the system doesn't allow for variation.

  2. @Eric, most of your readers outside New Zealand do not know that our department is part of a business school. Nor is the fact that students here can major in Economics in 3 ways: Commerce, Science, or Arts, widely appreciated.

    @Chris: in the USA, law is postgrad. It is also possible to become an accountant by doing an MBA concentrating in accounting. The situation you deplore is hard to avoid when the professional qualification is a first uni degree.

    The entire OECD should bite the bullet, admit that most of us don't learn much in secondary school, and require a 4 year first degree, namely the USA and Scottish model. Law and business should be postgrad degrees. In fact, most university professional training should take the form of a 2 year intense taught master's.