Tel Aviv University Business School to Students: Study Something Else

The head of Tel Aviv University's undergraduate business program suggests that undecided undergrads focus on a different academic discipline, echoing comments by the vice-dean of the graduate program.

The Tel Aviv University business school on Monday told its undergraduate students to get their degrees in other academic disciplines rather than business.

The message, delivered in an email to undergraduate business students by professor Shmuel Ellis, the chairperson of the undergraduate Department of Management, reaffirms controversial statements made by professor Moshe Zviran, the vice-dean of the connected Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration, in an interview that appeared in last month's TheMarker Magazine.

Ellis said in his email that the business school recommends undecided undergraduate students choose disciplines like pure sciences, math, economics, psychology, computer science, history, literature, philosophy and architecture.

"Study of academic disciplines prepares students to think scientifically in these fields and form the foundation for advanced studies in graduate degree programs," he said.

His advice seems to have done little to quell the outrage that erupted among business students following the publication of Zviran's remarks.

"It's a pity this wasn't stated at the open house, on the faculty's website or anywhere at all," said one student.

"Too bad he doesn't have the integrity not to head a department he doesn't believe in," said another.

In TheMarker magazine article by Tali Heruti-Sover, Tviran was quoted as saying business administration should only be studied at the graduate level and that an undergraduate degree in business is unnecessary. "Business administration is an excellent degree but needs to be studied at the appropriate time," he said.

Ellis said, "Unfortunately for us and many of the world's leading universities, there are open and hidden pressures to serve as institutions for professional training. The MBA was first founded to train graduates of disciplines who already had practical work experience in their professional or scientific fields for administrative positions.

Later, over the protests of many professors, undergraduate programs were also opened. At first, such programs were established at colleges, and the universities were left with no choice but to open management programs from fear of losing good students who are very interested in this field."

He continued, "As opposed to other colleges and universities, our senate approved the study of management only when combined with an academic discipline to retain the scientific character of undergraduate studies. For this reason it also barred combining management study with accounting, which isn't recognized as an academic discipline."

Aviad Bar Nes
Ofer Vaknin