Trends in Business Programs – An interview with Dr. Marc Poulin

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Dr. Marc Poulin, Acting Dean of Faculty of Management at Canadian University Dubai on the shifting trends in modern MBA programs


Dr. Marc Poulin, Acting Dean of Faculty of Management at Canadian University Dubai

What trends are you seeing in MBA at the moment? Are student expectations / demands regarding courses changing? If so, how?

Universities are definitely seeing a downward trend in student applications. According to various global and regional studies, demand for MBA degrees is still strong, but not growing very much in the region. With more challenging economic times, organisations are not supporting employees as much as before, which makes it challenging for candidates.

A few years ago, there were over 50 MBA programs offered and the number has declined significantly today. I see the current number remaining stable but it will surely depend on the economic environment.

There is also an enhancement in the quality of students, and in their expectations. They are better informed, they visit campuses critically, and compare with other options to obtain the best value for their investment.

They want to see facilities, talk with professors and know details of programs. We see more students that want to gain knowledge and skills rather than just a degree. Although the General MBA is still the most common choice for students who want to climb up the corporate ladder, there is more demand for specific concentrations. It is just challenging for universities to offer many concentrations while remaining profitable.

How is the market for university business courses in the region?

The market is quite diverse and has a large supply relative to the number of students. There are several local universities but most are international from major regions such as Australia, USA, Europe, and India.

Prices vary tremendously, from AED 20,000 to 400,000 a year. There is also an important difference in quality between the universities accredited by the UAE Ministry of Education – Higher Education Affairs and those that are not. The accreditation requirements limit class sizes and places higher demands on faculty qualifications, experience, etc.

Are you seeing strong demand for courses with an Artificial Intelligence angle? What courses do you offer that have an AI component?

There is clearly an increasing awareness in students about AI but our MBA candidates rarely ask about these programs. AI belongs to the Faculty of Engineering although business managers will benefit from AI developments to make better business decisions. MBA programs might include components of AI in specific courses, or as an elective course focusing on AI applications in Business.

What’s new from the Canadian University Dubai?

The Faculty of Management has developed many new programs in the past year and will continue to do so in the next few years. We consistently adapt to support the vision of the UAE and students’ interests. There is clearly an increased demand for topics in business technologies, leadership, and operations. Our Faculty focus on innovation and entrepreneurship at all levels. We are continuing to invest in quality teaching to improve our rankings and provide more value to students.