by Kentse Radebe

Cost of education

Applicants need to be prepared to foot the bill

The cost of attending exclusively face-to-face programmes is becoming prohibitive
Cost of education

With some executive education programmes in South Africa costing more than R200 000 per programme, applicants need to ensure they have compared different programme offerings and that they are prepared for the costs.

According to the 2013 Financial Times Executive Education rankings, there has been an increase in demand for short-term executive education programmes as well as open programmes that do not require any previous academic qualifications.

However, Willemien Law, the director of open enrolment programmes at the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development (USB-ED), in an article on open programmes, said that “the cost of attending exclusively face-to-face programmes is becoming prohibitive”. There are a number of executive education programmes offered in South Africa; however, the price range varies widely depending on the course selected. 

Commonly, fees include programme material, lunch and refreshments. A four-week executive development programme at USB costs R62 500, which includes food and study material. A four-week international executive development programme at the Wits Business School (WBS) will set you back R206 000 – but this includes an international study tour at the London Business School as well as a tour to Dubai and Shanghai.

The eight-day Women in Leadership programme offered by the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) costs R55 000 and offers executive coaching including food and study materials. The High Potential Programme offered at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg costs R45 000 for an eight- to 10-day duration.

Entry requirements

The entrance requirements for executive programmes can be stringent and vary across the different schools. Most require an applicant to be in a senior level position with experience as well as having the potential to move up to a more senior position in an organisation. The GIBS Global Executive programme, for example, calls for company executives or senior managers “with the potential to be promoted to an executive level position within the short term” to apply.

Other executive programmes are more structured to meet the needs of would-be managers by developing practical hands-on skills. Henley Business School (Johannesburg) also offers a short three-day course for mangers who do not have a financial background. Entitled ‘Finance for Non-Financial Managers’, it costs approximately R8 883.

The UCT GSB also offers a similar four-day course, which costs R14 400. A five-month certificate programme in marketing management at WBS costs R31 800.

Some of the certificate and open courses are less stringent. The Free State University Business School ‘New Manager’s Programme’, for example, requires supervisors with potential first-level management with two years’ experience to enter the programme.

There is a shortfall, however, and applicants need to do careful research. Some of the short and open programmes offered are not accredited at a particular NQF level. Law says that with some programmes at USB, for example, one would receive a certificate that declares you competent on a particular NQF level, but that isn’t accredited for a more academic qualification such as an MBA. As such, applicants need to be clear about what they require from their programme.

Some of the business schools offer a broad range of programmes, with NQF level ratings from level four up to level nine; while others offer segmented programmes that are accredited by sector education and training authorities.

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