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Business Education has been around in Pakistan for over six decades. The first business administration institute was established in Karachi with the name of Institute of Business Administration – IBA. It is still among the elite institutions in Pakistan. The Business Administration as a discipline evolved quite late; the initial focus was on Commerce and Accounting. Gradually, it shifted to business management and administration education.1

Business Administration vis-à-vis Commerce & Accounting

Commerce as a discipline of education has a long history dating back to 1759 when first formal commerce institute – Portuguese School of Commerce was established in Lisbon. It was a public school with special focus on accounting. Trade was opening up across continents and trained people who would know accounting, bookkeeping, and other trade related matters were in high demand. Such knowledge was previously acquired only through apprenticeship with already skilled people. In the sub-continent, the first commerce institute was established in Madras in 1886. Subsequently, Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics started graduate level classes in Mumbai in 1912.

In Pakistani region of subcontinent, commerce education initiated in 1919 through establishment of Government Institute of Commerce, which was affiliated with University of the Punjab. The college used to offer a Diploma in Commerce. Northern India Chamber of Commerce was established in Lahore in 193 and an increased demand of commerce graduates was anticipated. Therefore, faculty of commerce at University of the Punjab recommended that Diploma should be replaced with txdhe Bachelor degree and Hailey College of Commerce was established as Asia’s first specialized commerce institute in 1927.

The need for education in business management was anticipated after industrial revolution which led to mass production at unprecedented scale. Two challenges were associated with it; the control of uniform quality, and bulk supply of skilled labor. However, the scientific management concepts leading to business efficiency were developed not at this time but in early 1900’s.

The first institute of management (not just commerce) education was launched in 1881 at the University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School of Business. The school faced enormous difficulty in acquiring suitably skilled faculty, and also faced opposition from already established departments. Its name was subsequently changed to Wharton School of Commerce and Finance. Another effort was done to establish a business school at Harvard University. The first MBA program was launched by Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1908.

In Pakistan, commerce education has a long history, and it is still being offered by almost all of public and private universities. On the other hand, education of business administration has witnessed tremendous progress. Therefore, universities are offering both commerce and business administration programs with almost same stream of courses and same choices of specialization. However, global trends are also materializing in the country and some universities have rebranded their commerce faculty to faculty of accounting and finance. On the other hand, Higher Education Commission (HEC) has recommended termination of two-year bachelor and master programs (“Two Year BA, MA”, 2017), which applies to two-year B. Com and M. Com programs. These programs are very popular among students due to their short duration compared to the four year BBA program. Four-year program in commerce domain, B. Com (hons.), do not have much popularity against BBA program. There is an active debate as to whether the commerce education be abolished completely or be merged with business administration education. Thus, future of commerce education seems uncertain in Pakistan. 1

To be continued……


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