Take No Prisoners

Why on Earth do Business Schools Teach Microsoft Access?

I have been around business schools a fair bit and have noticed a few disturbing trends. For one, it seems that the majority of undergraduate business programs include at least one core course involving Microsoft Access. Sometimes Access is taught in labs or tutorials outside regular class, but the question remains, why?

I have received two answers to this question:

  • We’re not teaching “Microsoft Access,” we’re teaching fundamentals of database. We just happen to be using Access to do that.
  • Microsoft Access is a widely used program, so we’re giving our students skills that are in high demand
  • These answers are bullshit.

    First, “fundamentals of database” includes at least two things. The first is database design. The second is SQL. If the B-Schools are teaching fundamentals of database, why in the hell are their students using Access’s proprietary query builder instead of writing SQL, and what is this bullshit about Access’s “forms” and “reports.” You won’t see this crap in Oracle, DB2 or MySQL. Furthermore, I haven’t seen much education on database design in these intro classes, and assignments rarely include design activities because they can’t be graded quickly.

    Second, I can’t find a shred of evidence that Access is heavily used. I don’t know anyone who uses Access professionally. A quick search on Craigslist (Vancouver) brought up 95 jobs requiring Oracle, 122 jobs involving SQL Server, 157 jobs involving MySQL and 7 jobs involving MS Access.

    So, my question remains… why does it seem like most schools are teaching not only Access, but also the proprietary wizards and features of Access?