An economics degree opens doors of opportunities

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A Growing and developing economy needs, among others, highly skilled economists who are more than mere bureaucrats.

Graduates in economics can potentially contribute to the country as they play an important role in international business and collaborations. Photo: ShutterstockGraduates in economics can potentially contribute to the country as they play an important role in international business and collaborations. Photo: Shutterstock

Myanmar is no exception. As a developing nation, a vibrant and thriving economy is needed to harness the nation’s economic resources as well as people who can manage it in a dynamic and changing environment.

Economics, as subject, has acquired new importance in the development and future progress of Myanmar.

As such, the role of economists becomes increasingly important to a nation that depends on foreign investments and the construction of infrastructure as the nation propels itself forward.

Economics, as subject, came under the broad category of the social sciences over the last half century.

However, things have changed. Noting the critical role economics plays in nation building, the Yangon Institute of Economics (YIE) offers graduate degrees and diplomas, mostly in commerce, statistics and economics.

But to earn a place at this prestigious and competitive institute, potential students have to achieve excellent scores in their matriculation exams. In addition, as the number of applicants increases yearly, it becomes tougher to gain entry as the minimum requirements are raised, say lecturers and teachers at YIE. 

According to several YIE students, economics is taught as a professional subject and getting a qualification from the institute paves the way for job opportunities.

Ma Thiri Tun, a fourth year YIE student said, “Theoretically, the LCCI [London Chamber of Commerce and Industry] courses are similar to the accounting subjects that we have to study at YIE. We can work as accountants in the private sector after we graduate.”

As Myanmar opens up its doors and economy, the number of banking concerns and foreign investment companies coming in have increased and job opportunities for graduates from YIE is going up exponentially.

Potential students who want to earn an economics degree have two routes: full time on-campus study and distance learning to receive a government-accredited qualification.

Myanmar experts in economics discuss at a public sector budget forum. (Staff/The Myanmar Times)Myanmar experts in economics discuss at a public sector budget forum. (Staff/The Myanmar Times)

Two routes, one goal

Those who attend the institute as full-time day students will have to take eight major subjects and will be conferred degrees according to the subjects majored.

Currently, the YIE confers Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Economics (Economics), Bachelor of Economics (Statistics), Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Public Administration degrees after taking a four-year course. Honours in these degrees will be granted after an additional year of study. These degrees will be conferred only to the students who attend YIE full-time.

Students who choose distance learning will be conferred a Bachelor of Arts and Business Management degrees only.

Salaries and the positions of work will depend on the degree earned. Students who wish to pursue a course at YIE should look carefully into the courses offered before embarking on their studies. If they achieve commendable grades in subjects taught during their undergraduate degree they will be allowed to pursue a Master’s degree.

PhD students will be required to submit a written thesis after three years of post-graduate research.  

A basic degree in economics opens doors to many job opportunities in both the public and private sectors. After finishing a doctoral degree, a State-level advisory position may even be in the offing.  

An economics degree differs in subject matter and details. If students choose to major in accounting, job opportunities in the accounts section of major business and finance companies are open to them. If they choose banking as a subject, bank manager positions are open. Those who study management usually work as lecturers at economic institutes.

U Kyaw Ko Ko, a 2015 B Econ (Hons) graduate said, “As my degree is a professional qualification, it is a little different from an arts or science degree and opens the door to more job opportunities. It has a very high education standard and is practical orientated and meets the needs of the economy.”

Institutes specialising in economics are not available in all states and regions in Myanmar. There are only four institutes of economics in the countryMonywa Institute of Economics in Sagaing Region, Meiktila Institute of Economics in Mandalay Region, Yangon Institute of Economics (Ywar Thar Gyi) and Yangon Institute of Economics (Main) in Yangon Region.

Students from Kayin, Mon and Rakhine states, Tanintharyi, Yangon and Ayeyarwady regions have to go to the two Yangon Institutes of Economics, while students from northern Shan, Kachin and Chin states and Sagaing Region are allowed to attend Monywa and Meiktila Institutes of Economics.

Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama, US political economist and political scientist. In one of his books, Fukuyama acknowledges that culture cannot be cleanly separated from economics. Photo: EPAYoshihiro Francis Fukuyama, US political economist and political scientist. In one of his books, Fukuyama acknowledges that culture cannot be cleanly separated from economics. Photo: EPA

Competitive entry

Only the students from southern and eastern Shan and Kayah states, Magwe and Mandalay regions can apply to the Meiktila Institute of Economics. However, if students want to attend schools outside their regions, they must send their applications directly to the institutes.

The institutes will selectively accept those who meet the entry requirements which is up to 10 percent of the total enrollments. The applicants are required to fill in the names of the institutes they want to attend in order of priority.

The entry requirements for these institutes differ. According to the official statements, prospective students who pass their matriculation exams with at least 50 marks in each subject and have a total score of a minimum 350 will gain entry. However, the minimum entry scores may be adjusted and differ from one place to another, depending on the available seats at the universities.

Daw Thin Thin Htwe, assistant lecturer at YIE said, “We have to increase the minimum entry scores because there are more and more university applicants. The students are getting better every year. Different universities require different entry scores as universities accept a fixed number of students and the entry scores are adjusted based on the number of applicants.”

YIE accepts only 1200 students each year, although the number of undergraduate applications continues to rise.  The minimum entry marks for the YIE was set at a total score of 420 this year, she added.

Economics institutes all over Myanmar produce more than 4000 graduates from full-time courses attendance and over 1000 from distance learning, according to lecturers at the institute.

Previously, the economic institutes awarded degrees after three years of study. However, since 2002, students need to study four years to earn a degree. Visiting lecturers from YIE go to various universities to cater to students who undertake the distance learning method. The lecturers from Yangon Economics Institutes will visit different regions to teach their subjects.

Critical role

Entrepreneurs we spoke to agreed that for the business and finance sector to prosper in Myanmar, economics graduates will be critical for growth and development. To boost the country’s economic growth, economists are necessary and the role of such graduates cannot be more emphasised.

“We do not dare to hire people without economics degrees to work in finance because even a minor accounting error can have dire consequences. We can only employ qualified experts with economics degrees,” said entrepreneur Ko Zay Thiha.

There are many job opportunities available for the economics graduate in Myanmar. Economics graduates can work in government banks, private banks, the immigration and national registration department, department of development affairs and trading departments, according to business experts.

Also, economics graduates can apply for jobs in international companies and find work overseas.

“Myanmar’s economy is changing at a rapid rate. There are many opportunities for economics graduates. They do not even need to apply for them. They should work in foreign companies to gain experience. They have good salaries too,” said economist Daw Ye Ye Myint.

Economics students can potentially contribute to the country. These graduates play an important role in international business and collaborations.

The prospective economics graduate, after completing the Bachelor’s degree, will be a valuable asset not only to family businesses but also to the country’s economy.

Translation by Win Thaw Tar and Swe Zin Moe

Source: Myanmar Times

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