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Bilgi University, Turkey, Showcases Its E-MBA Program At World Education Market 2003, Lisbon, May 20


In Washington, DC:
L. Joseph

Phone: +202 473 7700 - Fax: +202 974 4384

Email:
ljoseph@ifc.org


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.