Being the best and being good enough are not the same thing, a distinction that the students, faculty, and alumni of the Lahore University of Management Sciences would do well to remember. LUMS is unquestionably the finest academic institution in Pakistan, and its students and alumni are the highest quality of human capital produced in the country. That does not necessarily imply, however, that they are good enough by global standards.
Indeed, if the volume of research produced by LUMS faculty, and the international standardized test scores of its students are anything to go by, Pakistan’s best, unfortunately, is not good enough for what the country needs to compete in the global arena. It is middling, at best, compared to the best institutions in the United States and Europe.
At some level, we suspect that the people at LUMS know this. The chest-thumping manner with which so many of their number proclaim themselves to be the Pakistani equivalent of Harvard – and their institution comparable to an Ivy League institution in the United States – suggests a degree of over-compensation that betrays deep-seated insecurities. Perhaps, more admirably, even a degree of self-awareness.
In this week’s cover issue, we examine what is the most expensive graduate degree in Pakistan: an MBA from LUMS. Our assessment of its educational and economic value – foreshadowed heavily in our headline – come out largely in favour of the degree and the institution granting it.
In fairness, the students we spoke to were much more grounded in their understanding and description of the value they gained from the degree than those charged with managing the MBA program. We hope that sense of self-awareness is something they will retain as they enter the workforce. A common complaint against LUMS graduates by employers is that they are exceptionally talented, but also exceptionally arrogant and either unable or unwilling to accept the flaws in their work.
We repeat: LUMS is the best academic institution in Pakistan and its students and faculty the very best that Pakistan has to offer. We also acknowledge that the institution grows better every year, and that one day it will compete against the very best institutions around the world. We just caution them in overstating their case: they are not there yet. Great academic institutions take decades, if not centuries, to mature. Be patient, and confident that you will no doubt get there one day. It is in your DNA.