Every school-leaver considering business studies faces the same dilemma: to study or to find a job first? If to study, then in Lithuania or abroad? What criteria to consider when choosing a higher education institution offering business studies?
According to Dr Edita Gimžauskienė, Dean of the School of Economics and Business at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU SEB), the quality and uniqueness of curriculum and infrastructure are the criteria that prospective students should pay attention to first.
When considering studies in one or another university, it is always good to do some research. Firstly, it is worth making enquiries whether the strengths of the school declared in the advertisements are implemented in reality. Sometimes, educational institutions are trying to impress their potential students with popular phrases. As an example, Dr Gimžauskienė mentions the internationality of studies.
“Internationality of a study programme is one of its positive features. However, quite often, the label of international studies is given to the programmes where Lithuanian students are simply taught in English. Is this real internationality? In my opinion, it is more important to ensure that the curriculum, infrastructure and lecturers match those in any other top-class business school in the world. Therefore, at KTU teaching and learning is based not only on the Lithuanian context – in each module, the latest global trends and events are also considered. For six years, our students have been using the Bloomberg Financial Market Lab, where they can monitor and analyse the global market in real-time”, says the Dean of the KTU SEB.
According to her, when choosing business studies, it is also necessary to pay attention to the uniqueness of the curriculum. It can be easily checked by finding out how many full-time lecturers are teaching in the study programme.
“Most of our lecturers work full-time only at KTU SEB – this means that the curriculum we offer is not taught in other higher education institutions. On the other hand, the international recognition of our lecturers and cooperation with foreign partners provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on practice while participating in world-class competitions (such as the Global Online Marketing Academic Challenge), to present their business idea at Silicon Valley, and to obtain the internationally recognised BMC (Bloomberg Market Concepts) certificate, proving practical skills of working with the Bloomberg terminal. We attempt to create original study curriculum and deliver it efficiently to our students”, says Dr Gimžauskienė.
Global and national university rankings are quite often considered a source of reliable information when choosing a higher education institution for your studies. However, the KTU SEB Dean advises being reserved about basing your choice on the rankings as they do not always reflect the real situation about the study quality.
“High rankings can be obtained simply by generating and presenting certain data. However, it is much more difficult to achieve a high ranking by strengthening the content and quality of your studies. When choosing business studies, only the Financial Times Business Schools Ranking is worth following, which includes those institutions that meet certain international standards”, advises Dr Gimžauskienė.
However, rankings can be the starting point when choosing a university, says Jurgita Stravinskienė, Vice-Dean for Studies at KTU SEB.
“For example, if you are dreaming of studying abroad, first check if the university of your choice is among the Top 5 in that country. If this is not the case, I suggest not to even consider it”, says Dr Stravinskienė.
When choosing a university, she advises not to fully trust the advertising campaigns but to make a research of a specific faculty, and the study programme.
“Sometimes we can be fooled by beautiful appearances. However, you can easily check the reality by simply calling the person in charge of the study programme. During the conversation, I advise asking very specific questions, such as: “What minor studies will I be able to choose in this programme?”, “What are the specific achievements of the university/faculty students related to the study programme I am interested in?”, “Which specific countries/universities can I expect to go to on Erasmus+ exchange?“, says Stravinskienė.
According to KTU SEB Vice-Dean for Studies, while choosing a certain study programme, you should not be afraid to enquire about the study quality. If the study programme receives a large number of applicants, it is normal to ask its manager how they ensure the strengthening of the study quality. What are the proofs of and specific actions in their pursuit for quality? What are the success stories?
One of the exciting study opportunities is the Erasmus+ study exchange. If you are impressed by the number of Erasmus+ partners the school of your choice has, it is worth asking how many cooperation contracts are connected to your chosen programme.
“Two years ago, we told ourselves that the number of Erasmus+ contracts was not a good measure of quality. We have carefully looked at which universities we collaborate with, which universities our students go to, how they are ranked in their national rankings, how responsible and open they are. In such a way, we optimised the number of KTU SEB Erasmus+ partners – 72 out of 143 matched those criteria and remained with us”, says Dr Stravinskienė.
If you are dreaming of studying abroad, first check if the university of your choice is among the Top 5 in that country. If not, I suggest to not even consider it.
Dr Jurgita Stravinskienė, KTU SEB Vice-Dean for Studies
Quality against quantity is the criteria applicable also to the teaching staff. According to Dr Gimžauskienė, the Dean of KTU SEB, if only several lecturers are teaching in a study programme spanning over four years, it is obvious that there is a lack of competence in that programme.
“The first thing I look for in a CV of a candidate for a teaching position is the statement, what subjects he/she can teach. If an academician can teach 15 subjects, from international trade to teamwork, I don’t even consider such a candidate. Those who can supervise dozens of undergraduates’ final projects or teach ten different modules cannot keep up with the quality. This means that these teachers don’t have their specialisation, or an in-depth research experience in a certain field”, says Dr Gimžauskienė.
10-15 years ago, Lithuania was known in the European context as a country of cheap labour. Today, according to Kęstutis Duoba, KTU SEB Vice-Dean for Research, this is no longer the case. Accordingly, the attitude of the employers in the region has changed.
“Investors coming to Lithuania today, such as Continental, Hella, Kitron and other international players, are settling in the Kaunas region and are no longer looking for cheap labour. Many of them are interested in young professionals who have just graduated and have a different mindset. The employers are no longer afraid that when the new staff comes to the workplace, they will start creating value for the company only after a while”, says Dr Duoba.
According to him, there is no need to be afraid to devote yourself to study during the study years. Also, he advises, if it is possible, not to work during studies, but to engage in other activities, of which there are plenty at the university.
“On the other hand, the study programmes, which are developed in cooperation with the representatives of Invest in Lithuania and Danske Bank provide additional value to students seeking to combine studies and gain practical experience”, says KTU SEB Vice-Dean for Research.
According to Dr Stravinskienė, KTU students have many possibilities to get acquainted with companies during their study process. Business representatives participate in lectures, they introduce their real-life challenges, which students can solve using their knowledge, skills and experience. The solutions of the students are also evaluated by the entrepreneurs who submitted the assignments.
“Many a time, after such lecture, I received a call from a business representative with a request to share the contacts of a specific student who performed well during the presentation. After a while, you may see that the student is already working at that company”, says Dr Stravinskienė.
The KTU SEB Vice-Dean for Studies says that the greatest mistake that might cause you not to land the job you want is to ask what the company “can offer” during a job interview or to think that a very popular degree programme is enough to guarantee a successful career.
According to Dr Stravinskienė, the employer will always prefer a candidate who in the first interview will say how he/she could benefit the company and not the other way around.
Most of our lecturers work full-time only at KTU SEB – this means that the curriculum we offer is not taught in other higher education institutions.
Dr Edita Gimžauskienė, KTU SEB Dean
“If you expect a company to bring you a job offer instantly after graduation, then I can say immediately, that waiting for that job offer will be long and disappointing. It is also wrong to assume that after graduation you will all work in the field that you graduated from and that a particular very popular study programme will guarantee employment and high salary from day one”, she says.
According to Dr Stravinskienė, practice shows that success in a career depends on the student’s personal qualities and ambitions.
“We know many cases when, starting with minor jobs, such as sticking labels on the doors or taking out parcels, a student successfully climbs the career ladder and eventually takes up high positions in various fields of business. Why? Because they managed to turn a situation or a problem into an opportunity to show their skills and ambition”, says KTU SEB Vice-Dean for Studies.
KTU offers 18 undergraduate and 25 master’s study programmes in English. Apply by July 31, 2021 and start studying this September! Apply now.