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Otago online MBA ranked 10th in the world

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

A “relatively small business school at the bottom of the planet” is making waves in the world of MBAs.

The Otago Business School’s online Master of Business Administration has today been ranked number 10 in the world in the 2020 QS World University Rankings, up three from last year.

Programme director Ian Lafferty says his initial reaction upon hearing today’s news was “huge pride”, especially “given the nature of the market and growth of programmes out there”.

“This means that by applying innovation, entrepreneurship and operational efficiency, a relatively small business school at the bottom of the planet in a university known primarily for health science, not business, can reach a dominant position in a highly competitive market.”

Gaining such success is, and has to be, a team effort, Lafferty says.

“My pride is in the programme team, the teaching team, the students and the university. Everyone has played a huge part in this.

“The Otago online MBA shows how far ahead of the pack the University of Otago is. There is no other university in New Zealand, and few elsewhere, that could have pulled this off. It started as an innovative experiment, and with the support of the University it has turned into a world-leading programme.”

The programme rated particularly well in the class experience section, scoring 92 per cent – a score Lafferty believes comes from never settling for second best and constant review.

“I believe the teaching team is a large part of this. We are religious about selection of teachers. We insist on 'pracademics', so, academics from a working business background. They need to be experienced enough in business to lead in-depth conversations with 25 experienced – in some cases very experienced – professionals.”

University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says she is delighted the programme has been formally recognised.

“This programme has only been running for 5 years, but in that time has continued to not just succeed, but excel. The staff should be very proud of this latest news which is a direct reflection of their hard work and dedication.

“It is even more notable to be recognised as global-leader in online education at a time when the rest of the world is having to move to and adjust to this kind teaching and learning,” Professor Hayne says.

Otago Business School Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Robin Gauld is “overjoyed” for the MBA team.

“To have a degree in the QS top 10 in such a competitive field really puts the MBA, Otago Business School and University firmly on the world stage,” Professor Gauld says.

“There is a strong sense of pride building within the MBA and across the Business School, propelled by the PBRF number one for research in New Zealand title gained last year.

“The focus on studying competitors, developing a niche boutique programme, on student experience, and continual improvement characterise the MBA. The ranking improvements are an outcome of that. Of course, the outcome is also a result of the incredible dedication Ian and the entire team have to the degree and to providing the very best for our students.”

He likens the Otago MBA to a “small, private hotel; quiet and understated but an unparalleled offering that cannot be found elsewhere”.

“The big players in the top 10 have deep pockets and capacity to invest hugely in degree development and branding. They run large cohorts, often of several-hundred students per annum. We can be proud that our online MBA is up there with the best, but built on a series of values that make a difference; attention to students, continuous improvement, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.”

Lafferty says there is little time to bask in the programme’s success – the programme launches in China in June and there are plans to develop the summer school.

“Our online students want to come to campus, so we are developing our summer school which attracts students from Duke, UNC, Kelley (Indiana) and NUS (Singapore).”

For more information, contact:

Ian Lafferty
MBA Programme Director

Professor Robin Gauld
Otago Business School Pro-Vice-Chancellor

Lea Jones
Communications Adviser
Otago Business School
University of Otago
Tel +64 3 479 4969

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