The Open University Business School (OUBS) Celebrates First South African MBA Graduates

December 1, 2002

Their studies were made possible by a partnership between the Open University Business School (OUBS) and the University of South Africa’s School of Business Leadership (UNISA SBL). The partnership, launched in 1997, brings together the largest business school in Europe and the largest business school in the Southern Hemisphere to offer an internationally accredited MBA, and other management development programmes, to South African managers.

Professor Anton Ferreira, executive director of UNISA SBL, said:

“There is a need for a premier international MBA in South Africa. All managers deserve access to world class management education and our partnership with the OUBS enables us to provide this.”

OUBS Dean Professor Roland Kaye endorsed the strong link between the two schools:

“The strategic alliance between these two giants in higher education will lead to the continued evolution of joint curricula aimed at a world market in management development.

“These first graduates deserve our admiration and congratulations for all their hard work and their success symbolises the flourishing relationship between the OUBS and SBL,” he said.

Among the graduates was 42-year-old Phetole Rabohale, a general manager with the South Africa Post Office. He studied for the certificate and diploma in management before taking the MBA and during that time was promoted three times from a production engineer to a senior manager in charge of 2,700 staff. “You have to work very hard but I have learned so much and I have no regrets. I have grown as a person while studying and feel that no matter what challenges are put in front of me I will be able to deal with them,” he said.

Thanks to his studies Phetole has implemented changes at work which have improved the amount of mail being delivered within ‘on time’ targets from 63% to 90%.

Another graduate, Lizanne Kolver is, at 24, one of the youngest students ever to achieve the MBA.

She started studying at 19 after leaving school at 17 to start work because she could not afford to go to a traditional university. Fellow (male) students were sceptical of her ability to cope with the course when she started as a secretary four years ago but now, as a business engineering consultant, Lizanne has proved her doubters wrong:

“It motivates you to go on. It’s been the most wonderful few years of my life and I am thinking about what I can do next, I don’t want to stop learning,” she said.

South Africa is currently undergoing dramatic change and programme manager Herman Potgieter says studying for the MBA often breaks down divisions between black and white students:

“For many students it is the first opportunity they get to relate to people of other races in the context of the workplace and how they experience management decisions. The programme is helping to heal some of the wounds of society and teaching people to work together on an equal basis and, while we often focus on the academic success, I think that is equally important,” he said.

More than 125 students are currently studying for the OUBS MBA in South Africa through SBL, with another 200 due to start the UNISA MBA in co-operation with the OUBS in 2003. In addition, more than 1,000 students are studying for the OUBS Professional Certificate or Professional Diploma in Management.

The MBA awards were presented by the Open University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Linda Jones at the ceremony at the UNISA SBL campus at Midrand near Johannesburg on Saturday November 16th. For more information or photographs please contact Fiona Leslie (see below).

The Open University Business School (OUBS) is Europe’s leading business school and the major provider of management development programmes delivered by supported distance learning. It is one of an elite group of UK and European business schools to hold both the prestigious EQUIS quality kitemark, awarded by the European Foundation for Management Development (efmd), and AMBA (the Association of MBAs) accreditation for its MBA. Currently the OUBS has 30,000 students based in the UK and more than 40 countries. Since its inception in 1983, more than 150,000 managers have studied an OUBS course at Certificate, Diploma or MBA level. The School is based at the Open University’s Milton Keynes headquarters in Buckinghamshire. Its website can be found at:


OU Media Relations

Fiona Leslie

01908 653256


Jessica Magill

01908 655042