Friday, January 16, 2015

The Problem with IPE MBA at Olympia College

I have been receiving many queries from people who are interested in pursuing an MBA. They've found this blog where I write about my own MBA experience with the IPE MBA offered at Olympia College. Thank you all for visiting and for sending me messages on my Facebook page. Happy news: I have just completed my first module and is now awaiting results (as of 10 April 2015, no sign of the official result yet although I've been told that I received an A).

I have also been meaning to write this post for the longest time, but to write them much earlier would be, well, too early. So between November and now, I waited until I finished my first module while observing a little longer. I have committed myself to an MBA (this one) and would like to believe I have made a reasonably good choice, but sadly Olympia has been disappointing.

Now into my second module, I noticed that there’s hardly any interaction at all from the academic staff in the IPE Teamie student portal (apart from the module introduction). Although not many, there were posts from students but no responses from the academic folks. But this is not the focus of this post.

The main problems are (apart from the mistake they made with the payment, privacy issue with the TEAMIE student portal, poorly organized induction, etc.)…

Scholarvox e-Library
On 14 November 2014, I wrote on the IPE Teamie student portal to check on my Scholarvox access and was told by Mr Chan, a staff member, that “Access will take some time to process. Will contact you as soon as clearance is given.” My thought is normally an e-library access is given immediately upon the start of the study but I decided to give Olympia the benefit of doubt, so I waited. Two months later on 12 January this year, I followed up again with the IPE coordinator at Olympia College in Penang on the matter. This time, I was told that “Scholarvox ID will be provided mainly for the thesis.” I also see a fellow student who is now in her 6th module still asking about her Scholarvox e-Library access and password.

If this is the case, why is Olympia and the IPE team misleading students with statements that the recommended textbooks can be accessed in Scholarvox? My recommendation is for Olympia to either remove that statement or update it to state the truth so that we know we will not be given access anytime soon and that it will only be given “when we write the thesis.”

The TEAMIE student portal should STOP making reference "the students can access this text from Scholarvox e-library" for the modules when stating the recommended text. The screenshots below illustrates the point.



The Library
Speaking of recommended textbooks, I visited the library at the College to look for the required reading entitled Making Sense of Change Management : A Complete Guide to the Models, Tools and Techniques of Organizational Change (3rd edition). This was the required reading for my first module, Leading Organisation. Before I reveal whether the library has the book or not, what I also found out is that most of the books cannot be borrowed. I thought well, that’s OK, I’m OK to sit in the library and study there. I love libraries and the thought of being surrounded by books thrills me. While I was thinking happy thoughts like this, the librarian told me that the book is not available.
“Do you mean they’ve all been borrowed by students?” I asked.
“No, the title is not in stock,” he said, “and most books can’t be borrowed anyway. You need to pay RM300 to borrow books, if they can be borrowed.”
Note: I have modified the librarian's original English for the purpose of this post without changing his meaning.

I can’t believe what I heard. Immediately after the library visit, I met up with the IPE coordinator to highlight the problem. Recommended textbooks are not in stock in the library. Adding salt to the wound is the unavailability of even the e-Library (this is what prompted me to go visit the actual library itself). So, what do MBA students enrolled in this program do? I know one can always be resourceful and not to depend on the college or university to provide you with resources, not to mention one can Google one's way through for materials on the Internet, but this is NOT normal for an academic institution that offers graduate studies.

I turned to my personal home library instead (read this post, Writing My First MBA Assignment: Mission Accomplished)

AMA Membership
I have only been told all the time when I followed up with Olympia that my AMA membership is being processed. I was once a member of AMA (personal membership) and appreciated its value very much, which is why when I saw that Olympia offers free AMA membership as incentive to those who enroll into the IPE MBA (and of course the Scholarvox e-library), I jumped at it. I was thinking this is awesome—I can use the AMA resources for my MBA! Now into the second module, the AMA membership is still not ready. When I check (I know Olympia must hate me now), they informed that they’ve only just submitted my details to the IPE regional center and that this offer is for students until the end of January so they will be preparing a list in February. God knows when I will get my access. I hope it’s not when my MBA ends.

In summary,
  • Poor coordination and communication (read this post)
  • Misleading: Inaccurate or partial information (You're currently reading this post)

If you are looking for an MBA program and wish to commit your time to pursuing one, there are better options elsewhere. Olympia is not recommended. In my next post, I will explain why I picked (or had to pick) Olympia.

Read ALL related posts here.

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