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Business School vs. University: Which is the best investment?

A staggering 91% of students who studied an undergraduate business course at Henley Business School Africa over the past three years report a positive impact on their careers less than six months after graduating; that’s outpacing national statistics that suggest graduate unemployment is rising. Keep reading to find out why a business management degree from Henley could be your fast track to success in a rapidly changing world.

Statistics never lie, they say; well, here are a few to ponder. Only 6% of South African school starters get a degree within six years of leaving school, yet unemployment among these few graduates is on the rise, according to research from the University of Stellenbosch, doubling over the last 16 years. At the same time, the World Economic Forum Future Jobs Report 2023 predicts 44% of workers' skills will be disrupted in the next ten years. But 91% of graduates from Henley’s undergraduate management programmes report a positive career impact within just six months of graduation, and over 50% receive promotions, a pay rise, or have found new opportunities.

Why are management graduates thriving even as the job market is shifting? The answer might surprise you – it's not just about the piece of paper or the skills gained, it's about your attitude and habits and how you show up as a whole person.

Acquiring new knowledge is only part of the answer

We are in a race to skills obsolescence, with AI and technology shifts re-shaping workplaces as you read this sentence. This means studying to acquire new knowledge and skills is only part of the answer; more essentially, we need cognitive development that leads to sophistication in thinking, managing and doing. And that is pretty hard to learn, which is why quality of education is critical to success. 

Many people will tell you that management skills can be learned "on the job". That is quite true , but it’s often a random, costly and risky process. At Henley we make management learning more certain, quicker and confidence building. Management is a complex and subtle skill, honed through experience and commitment – to self-mastery and to the people you lead. How else do you learn how you impact other people, for instance, if you are not getting that feedback as you learn?

Claire Nombika, a graduate of Henley’s SOAR! Advanced Diploma in Management Practice says it was only through feedback from her team during her business school assignments that she discovered that people were intimidated by her and that this was holding them back. “I was dismayed to learn that when I was trying to get my point across, this could be seen by some as raising my voice and showing anger. This made me examine my way of conducting professional conversations, which I found has helped to improve relationships with employees especially.” 

Another Henley graduate, Tshepo Makena, who graduated with a diploma-level RISE! Advanced Certificate in Management Practice, agrees. “Henley taught me how to listen to my staff. And more than that, not to listen to respond, but listen to understand. There is a big difference!”

Similarly Randy Mampuru, founder of educational enterprise, Kidz Hub, says the LIFT! Higher Certificate in Management Practice helped her build better relationships and get the most out of her team.

Great managers are rare, as any recruiter will tell you, and investing in proper training is essential if you want to grow your management capabilities quickly and in the right way.

One of the reasons our graduates are doing so well in the workplace is because, at Henley, we understand that management is an action, not a position. We treat education, and the people we educate maturely, and adults need application, trial, and error — with the appropriate accountability — in order to learn and grow.

It is in this process of learning and applying, failing and trying again in a supportive environment that people can start to build their resilience and their craft. This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. Any good management development programme needs to give its graduates the ability to actually deal with the challenges they will encounter ahead, challenges that are getting tougher day by day.

Join a movement of brilliant managers

In South Africa, we have our fair share of challenges to overcome, and at Henley Africa, we are building a national movement of brilliant managers who have what it takes to get things done and make things happen.

We work with forward-thinking corporations to allow their people to gain respected undergraduate qualifications at the diploma and degree level. But significantly, we also offer this opportunity to self-funded individuals. Anyone can join one of our three undergraduate programmes, and there are scholarship options available, too. Whether you had to skip or drop out of further education and go straight to work because you need to make ends meet or you didn’t qualify for university, if you are a working South African with the will to get ahead, we can help.

At the undergraduate level, there are three programmes that teach increasingly advanced management skills to post-experience students looking to advance their careers:

1. LIFT! Higher Certificate in Management Practice (NQF level 5) gives students greater credibility in the workplace by building their confidence, shaping their self-leadership and management skills, preparing them for managing teams, and demystifying the intricacies of business.

2. RISE! Advanced Certificate in Management Practice (NQF level 6) sets students apart as professional managers who can find opportunities and solve problems with confidence. Graduates of this programme know more, think better, and are able to act with determination.

3. SOAR! Advanced Diploma in Management Practice (NQF level 7) imbues students with purpose, helping them find their inner eagle, elevate their business savvy and strategic management practice tools, and propelling them to the next step in their careers.

These three stackable courses pave the way for students to continue to Henley’s postgraduate offerings, the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice (NQF 8, honours-level) and, ultimately, the flagship MBA, an internationally recognised, quadruple-accredited degree for executive-level students. 

Study a business course part-time at your own pace while you work

As our new Government of National Unity squares up to kickstart the economy and create jobs for our young people, it’s worth remembering that the old South Africa’s wealth was built on an extractive economy with a few highly skilled people and a systematically undereducated mass population that provided mostly labour. The new South Africa needs to give people the ability to create modern prosperity by working at higher levels of sophistication and complexity. Only mass education and workplace learning can provide that.

We don’t have any option: The change coming our way is all pervasive and unstoppable. At Henley, we are fundamentally reconceptualising talent development to meet this future head on. We believe learning is no longer something that happens when we “go to” university or college. People need to be learning throughout their careers as situations change. We need to amplify the pace of learning and cultivate in people the quality of being able to make sense of things and get things done in real time.

Even as workplaces reshape, people who possess these qualities will likely prevail. There will always be a need for skilled managers who can bring it all together; of this, we are 100% certain. Now, that’s a number worth paying attention to! Great managers are the secret sauce that keeps things moving forward, and you can be one of them.

For information on post-experience undergraduate study opportunities at Henley Business School, please go to: https://www.henleysa.ac.za/management-programmes.







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