Istanbul, Turkey, May 8, 2003—Bilgi
University in Istanbul, Turkey, will come under the spotlight of the international
education industry this year. Staff of the university’s successful
e-MBA program are invited to make a presentation at the prestigious World
Education Market conference in Lisbon, Portugal, May 20, 2003. The
Bilgi University e-MBA program was developed in 2001 as part of an IFC
loan to assist the university in expanding its programs and modernizing
its campuses and facilities.
E-learning has received much international attention in recent years from
governments, educators, and private sector interests. In the aftermath
of the dot.com crashes, many investors lost confidence in e-learning companies.
Those negative investment trends have now leveled off, leaving a few survivors
to restructure their enterprises with different business models. Notwithstanding
these past failures, institutions of higher education have continued e-learning
initiatives, realizing the importance of distance education in many countries
in improving both access and opportunity for a quality education where
unmet demand exists.
Bilgi University pioneered the first on-line graduate program in Turkey
when it launched its e-MBA in 2001 after receiving accreditation from Turkey’s
Council for Higher Education. The program began with 38 students.
Its first 30 students graduated after two years. Bilgi’s e-MBA has
captured the interest of businesses and working executives in the region
with a total of 390 students enrolled in this academic year. The program
is now well ahead of original enrollment estimates. The MBA curriculum
uses up-to-date theories of Western graduate education in business and
finance, equipping professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to
make their enterprises more competitive, nationally and internationally.
“Bilgi University and its e-MBA program caught our interest when the project
came to IFC three years ago,” said Mr. Guy Ellena, Director of IFC’s
Health and Education Department, who is delighted with the program’s early
success and recognition. “What distinguishes this from traditional e-learning
investments is the brief three-year period the program has taken to gain
acknowledgement in the local market and to produce positive financial returns,”
he added, calling it “an achievement that would be welcomed by any university
with e-learning programs around the globe.”
Bilgi’s Rector Dr. Lale Duruiz called it “an exciting beginning” for
Bilgi’s e-MBA program to be singled out to share its experiences and lessons
learned at the World Education Market conference. “The program is
a credit to Dr. Metehan Sekban and his team who have come very far in such
a short time,” she said. “Despite the positive momentum, we are
constantly reviewing the program and identifying ways to improve support
to faculty and students. With each group of students we advance our
understanding about different learning styles and student mentoring in
on-line learning environments.” Dr. Duruiz added that there is much
to learn from Bilgi’s students, the private sector it serves, and the
international universities with which it is affiliated.
Students at Bilgi pay $6,800 tuition fees for the e-MBA English Program
and $5,300 for the optional Turkish e-MBA Program. This is competitive
with fees charged across European Union countries for other MBA programs,
ranging from around $5,000 to $29,000, depending on the country and the
business school concerned. Bilgi’s MBA fees are rather expensive
for most people in Turkey, given average local per capita earnings of about
$3,000. However, the cost is more than offset by the recognition
the degree is receiving, making it a worthwhile investment and good value
for students who want to pursue careers in business and finance.
Supply has been outstripped by the unmet demand for qualified professionals
in business and finance in Turkey and across the region. In the year
2000, the United States and EU countries produced about 70 and 20 business
graduates respectively per 100,000 of population. It is estimated
that Turkey produces well below these numbers, making the present supply
of qualified business professionals highly inadequate to meet demand generated
in the region. In several Eastern European and Central Asian countries,
brain drain has become a major obstacle for the development of postgraduate
business and finance studies. Bilgi’s e-MBA program will help overcome
this trend by graduating business professionals from the program in Turkey,
where they are employed.
Bilgi’s early educational and financial success in implementing this MBA
program is significant for Turkey and the region, creating positive effects
that can be disseminated to other institutions of higher education throughout
Turkey in the future.
IFC finances viable private sector investments in the developing world,
mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients
improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical
assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding
in 1956 through FY02, IFC has committed more than $34 billion of its own
funds and arranged $21 billion in syndications for 2,825 companies in 140
developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY02 was
$15.1 billion for its own account and $6.5 billion held for participants
in loan syndications.
IFC's Health and Education Department provides project financing through
a variety of financial instruments including loans and direct equity investments.
This financing is normally in hard currencies such as US dollars or euros,
although where conditions are suitable, IFC also considers local currency
financing. Typically total project costs of health and education investments
exceed $5 million. However, given the specific needs of the health and
education sectors for lower levels of assistance, IFC is currently considering
other instruments better suited to respond to the needs of smaller projects.
In addition to project financing, the Health and Education Department provides
technical assistance to support its individual clients throughout the project
process. It also undertakes independent research to explore the multitude
of issues facing the sector in different regions.