Business Schools VS. Universities: How to Choose Your Business Education

The world of business education can be confusing when you are trying to choose the right course. The landscape is full of business schools and universities offering what appear to be variations on the same courses. To further add to the confusion, some institutions such as the now defunct Trump University use words like ‘University’ in their titles when they are in fact not. On the other hand, some business schools are embedded within a university. Here are a few pointers to help you choose whether to go for the university or business school option.

What is a Business School versus a University in Australia?

To shed a bit of light on this confusing state of affairs, here’s your simple definition for the Australian context. In Australia, all higher education providers must meet the higher education standards framework defined by TEQSA in order to be certified. In this system, there are different categories for universities or other higher education providers.

A business school is a private education provider offering nationally accredited diploma, undergraduate and post-graduate level courses only in business related areas. Don’t be confused by the ‘school of business’ title given to faculties within universities such as Sydney University. On the other hand, the (mostly public) universities in Australia must be at least 85% self-accrediting and offer undergraduate and post-graduate (but not diploma level) courses across a minimum of three different fields of study. You cannot have a university that offers only business programs, for example. They have got to provide a broader spectrum of degrees and staff are required to research in addition to teaching. Unlike other providers, universities also offer doctoral and masters degrees by research.

Some important points of difference

So far we have emphasised how important it is to select the right institution for you, but there are also a few fundamental differences between business schools and universities to consider. These types of organisations do have their own history, structure, culture and teaching practises. Here are a few key points to think about when you are making your choice.

  Institution Size

Universities can be huge, with thousands of students on one campus. Because of this they often have many different clubs, societies and facilities. However, class sizes can be enormous, teachers have limited time, and big institutions can be bureaucratic and impersonal. Business Schools tend to be much smaller, with less staff and reduced class sizes. These can lead to a more individualised, personal teaching environment with greater one-on-one attention. There are fewer research facilities and recreational activities, but you become more familiar with teachers and other students.

   Your Peers

At University you are sharing a campus with a range of students all studying vastly different courses. That can be fun, exciting and challenging. On the other hand, Business Schools are considered to be excellent places for networking, because everyone you meet is there with a career in business as their end goal.

  Industry Connections and Work Placement Services

Although this is no longer true of the more modern universities, older universities tend to focus on academic outcomes. On the other hand, the reputation of a Business School comes from the performance of their graduates in the workforce rather than the research of their academics. For this reason, many focus on industry connections and work placements, and offer services such as Kaplan Business School’s Careers Central. Make sure you ask your institution what internships and connections they offer before you enrol.

  Entry Requirements

Each institution has its specific entry requirements for courses. If you are not eligible for the course of your choice, you can enrol in a preparation course or a diploma at a Business School or other education provider and then articulate into a bachelor’s degree. Universities do not offer these courses, but they do accept articulations from specific colleges or schools.

So you are thinking of studying business? Make sure you know what you want and can afford.

Firstly, be sure of what you want. As with most things in life, what you get out of your business education is dependent on what course is right for your career goals. While higher education is a good investment, you need to be sure about the particular area you are enrolling in. What are you aiming for; entrepreneurship, accounting, management, marketing? What institution specialises in that particular field? What industry do you want to work in, and is there a school or university that specialises in that?  Business schools often specialise in specific management courses, and that can lead to a more focused education, whereas universities tend to offer a more general spectrum of additional subjects.

Of course, then there’s the financial reality check; what can you afford right now? How much are your potential education providers asking in fees and what will you lose in wages while you are studying? Think long term, and calculate your return on investment. Going straight for a degree may not be realistic regarding time or money. In that case, beginning your education with a diploma may be a good option.

Above all, do your research

Each institution has its own reputation. Not only do you want to study somewhere that has a good one, but you also want to find the place that’s known for the particular course you want to study. As we have emphasised above, you also want to find the right course to suit your particular learning style and specific educational needs. Research each institution that you are considering enrolling in, talk to recent graduates and check your provider on scores. Some rankings might help, but ranking systems are notoriously questionable regarding what they can tell you about teaching quality, so look for ones that focus on the student experience. The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) system, for example, assesses both business schools and universities for academic quality and learning and it is based on student surveys rather than panel judgement. This grading system factors in other important points such as student support that may otherwise be missed in studies focused only on academic results. Check out Kaplan Business School’s scores here compared against other popular business course providers and read some student testimonials to get a sense of whether we are the right school for you.

Kaplan Business School offers several undergraduate and postgraduate business programs. More and more people are choosing to study business for its strong prospects and job security that the business sector offers graduates. Check out what a KBS business program offers you.