Reflections on the MBIT degree. Some advice | Matt Hayward's blog Melbourne Australia

Reflections on the MBIT degree. Some advice

Between 2009 and 2013 I studied a Masters of Business IT at RMIT in Melbourne part time.  This is my personal view on the degree and the university. I strongly recommend you talk to others and form your own view.

Why did I choose the university? I like the fight in the dog. RMIT had to be bailed out by the state government 7-10 years ago because of an epic IT fail. I believe the bail out was around $50M. But they were honest about it. The effective CIO of the uni talked about how rational people made very rational decisions and failed. But the uni seemed to thrive after coming so near to the brink. They really aggressively started marketing to international students and appear at least quite profitable. That honesty really impressed me.

Secondly the uni is very convenient. It’s right in the CBD and meant you don’t need to travel. Finally it was about half the price of studying at Melbourne University’s Business School. Sadly I’m now lead to believe it’s had the degree.

One thing that was clearly obvious in the MBIT program is that mature aged students working full time are a minority. Something like 10-20%. A great deal of the students are international. Many of which are in their early twenties who have gone straight from undergrad to postgrad. Many who have had no vocationally relevant work experience in IT. It means that there is very limited scope to make real connections with people in a similar disposition to you. That’s where I see the true value in a degree and I think the uni fails here badly.

Some would argue why bother attending lectures at all? Personally I was paying for my degree out of my own pocket up front and wanted to maximise the experience.  Honestly what’s the point of not attending lectures you’ve paid for? Studying undergrad at Monash University, engaging in the tutorials and lectures was some of the most stimulating learning I’ve ever had.

It was evident that RMIT were pushing charm and charisma over academia. Yes some of the lecturers were really fun. But sometimes fun isn’t exactly challenging. The depth of the subjects varies dramatically. Quite literally one subject on business case development had us watching an old episode of Oprah in a tutorial. I dropped it.

In one subject on supply chain logistics, I walked out of a 2 hour exam in approx. 40 minutes without study.  It’s not a gloat, blind Freddy could’ve got a high distinction. It really feels like a shallow victory and makes you question whether those high distinctions you really worked for meant something. If that’s what you’re into great. Hopefully you can buy your big work assignments off of some dodgy bulletin board and fudge your way through the real world as well. The real concern was some of the students found it highly challenging. Which really doesn’t say a lot for the intake requirements.

RMIT pushes the importance of presentation skills and giving students real life skills. Sadly it doesn’t work that way in reality. People would give presentations like shy little church mouses and still pass. Once I saw a student make an opening remark mocking how everyone thought his presentation was boring. When he finished he sat down and proceeded to play Diablo on his laptop. Only once did I see a student get reprimanded once for a clearly sub par presentation. It’s all too hard to deal with at RMIT. Plenty of students just get rubber stamped.

Sadly most students complained because they’d prefer to be watching Oprah. That is the real disappointment that great lecturers are being made way for fees for degrees.

Albeit some lecturers were difficult or quirky, they provided great academic challenges that really boosted my confidence. It inspired me when one lecturer said he’d given me one of the most complex subjects he’d given a student. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant. It really pushed me hard to learn. Besides so what you can’t understand your lecturer’s accent? What happens when your new boss has a funny accent. I guess your uni days really haven’t helped you then!

If you are mature age, looking for a challenge and willing to spend your own money, I frankly wouldn’t recommend this degree. I don’t regret studying it and did learn a lot, but it doesn’t open doors. One could argue I haven’t engaged enough in extra curricular activities. From what I hear of Melbourne University they’re much bigger on networking and soft skills. Frankly I can’t even remember any on offer aside from the odd end of year barbecue. You could also argue though that getting a Masters isn’t a meal ticket. You’d be right.

Think twice about why you want to study. Because you won’t get a pay rise and a promotion if you can’t make it work. One learning I had is that if you want people to notice you at work, try and do as many assignments as you can on issues your employer is experiencing. It gets a bit nauseating living and breathing a company 14 hours a day but it pays off.

The truth is I studied and am quite proud of what I achieved on paper. I graduated with distinction and was accepted into the Golden Key Society for those who finish in the top of their school. No it hasn’t made a huge difference in the real world honestly. The mockers may have me there. It takes a lot more than a piece of paper to do that. However I feel shortchanged by my choice in uni. They’ve been too much about the economic turnaround and not enough about results. Choose a university that will put as much into your education as you will. You’re not going there for entertainment. Oh yeah and you can watch Oprah for free.

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