November 6, 2013 11:24 am

Forbes makes move into online MBAs

Ashford College of Business and Professional Studies has specialised in providing online degree programmes

Forbes Media, the publisher of Forbes business magazine, has announced an alliance with a US business school, in the latest sign of interest from non-traditional players in the business education market.

The Ashford College of Business and Professional Studies, which specialises in providing online degree programmes, will now be known as the Ashford University Forbes School of Business.

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Students at the school will gain online access to curated Forbes material – Forbes’ material is already free to view online, but Forbes will select targeted items from its vast archive and daily coverage for the students to study. Forbes has said it will also provide speakers and webinars featuring business experts selected from among its 1,200 international contributors. The main thing Forbes will provide, however, is its branding, according to Mike Perlis, chief executive of Forbes Media.

“The opportunity to bring business education to people online that would otherwise have difficulty finding it is very attractive to us,” said Mr Perlis, adding that Forbes had been looking at a number of business schools and had selected Ashford because of its scale. He said Ashford educates tens of thousands of people online each year.

Mr Perlis explained that the two entities have entered into a licensed arrangement which will see Forbes earn a percentage of the revenue derived from the business education programmes. He would not reveal the precise details of the agreement.

Ashford University, which also offers some campus degree programmes, is based in Clinton, Iowa. It offers an online-only MBA programme as well as online masters programmes in organisational management and public administration.

The business education market appears to be attracting growing interest from outside parties.

Forbes’s move follows the purchase, in August this year, of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive. The deal gave Mr Bezos access to The Washington Post’s most profitable division – Kaplan, a business and professional education company.

Pearson, an education company which is also the owner of the Financial Times, launched Pearson College in 2012, which is offering part-time and full-time undergraduate business degrees. Some students from Pearson College completed internships at the FT over the summer.

Mr Perlis said he expected Forbes branding to attract more students to sign up for courses at the business school. “The Forbes name means a lot in the business community.”

He said Forbes and Ashford were in the process of finalising their business plan and would offer test courses at the beginning of next year. Fees would only be finalised after then, he explained.

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