Meeting of minds

by Grace Chan

News every month from the world of academia

Jim Slater, director
MBA programmes and international development
Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham
Photo: Johnny Kwok

When senior executives decide to upgrade their qualifications and skills, choosing a quality academic programme is of the highest priority. This is exactly what the UK-based University of Birmingham offers with its comprehensive, career-advancing executive MBA programme.

The university, in partnership with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Professional Education and Executive Development (SPEED), has been offering a part-time executive MBA programme for Hong Kong-based students since 2002.

Jim Slater, director of MBA programmes and international development, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, says, "We leverage PolyU's academic experience and platform to administer the programme, and the collaboration prioritises quality of the programme."

As with other MBA programmes offered by the University of Birmingham, this executive MBA programme is also accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) as a fully taught programme for working executives.

"We faithfully reproduce the UK-based Birmingham executive MBA programme," Professor Slater adds. "All teaching staff are faculty members from the University of Birmingham, and most of them possess more than 20 years of MBA teaching experience."

Instead of distance learning or a blended model, the programme consists of classroom sessions of up to 500 contact hours. Face-to-face interaction is enhanced by videoconferencing between intensive teaching periods.

The programme is divided into eight blocks, each focusing on a single subject and taught at eight- to 10-week intervals, explains Professor Slater. Five of the eight modules are conventional business disciplines. The sixth examines ways to scrutinise and analyse the international business environment, while the remaining two focus on strategic management, internalising previously learnt skills and helping students to gain new perspective as senior management. The programme also includes an online business simulation, run over several weeks.

Once students have completed all the modules, they are required to write a dissertation, putting the analytical framework into practise.

Students have two to four years to complete the programme. Once they have completed it, they should be competent in all main business disciplines, with the skills to effectively communicate with, manage and coordinate other specialists.

The programme targets industry specialists with relevant university degrees and at least three years of managerial or supervisory work experience. Alternatively, applicants should have a university degree and at least five years' relevant experience. The average age of students is over 30.

"Our student profile represents diverse business backgrounds and the environment can be compared to a company setting where different specialists work together. Teamwork is an integral part of the learning process," Professor Slater explains.

About 40 students are admitted to the programme annually and applications are invited throughout the year, with four annual intakes.

Students benefit greatly from networking with professionals and experts during the course of the programme, Professor Slater notes. "We're also investing in an alumni office with an aim to organise an increased number of activities for alumni and students in future," he concludes.

Taken from Career Times 15 May 2009, p. A10
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