Online MBA Degrees from the UK Gaining in Popularity

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In its investigation into the future of the British Online MBA, Study2U.com makes a range of findings, including that there is growing demand for UK online MBAs.

Rachel Killian, Warwick Business School

Warwick Business School has seen its annual intake grow a third since 2008.

New online technologies, including social media, and changing attitudes to online learning, mean more students will study their MBA online, according to some of the top UK Business School providers. This is good news for people contemplating studying their MBA online - the learning experience is being taken to a new level, and more and more people like them are studying online. Study2U.com investigates the future of the British Online MBA, and what this means to your future.

Revolutionising how the MBA is delivered
Advances in technology have boosted distance learning MBAs. While these courses were traditionally taught purely by post, online technology is improving students’ learning experience and revolutionising the way UK business schools offer the qualification.

UK MBA courses vary in the amount students study online. Some are completely online (though all MBA courses accredited by the Association of MBAs require some direct contact time) while most distance learning MBAs now have at least some online components.

The future is exciting
Warwick Business School has seen its annual intake grow a third since 2008, according to Rachel Killian, MBA marketing and recruitment manager. Partly because of rising interest from developing countries, such as Nigeria, which value British education, but also a growing recognition, for instance from India, that quality MBAs are available from world-ranked schools that are delivered in part-time, distance learning format.

UK institutions have a good reputation, Killian says. Of the 40 top online MBA providers listed by the Financial Times, nearly half were UK-based. But quality can vary. Warwick’s programme is not only rigorous but interactive, recognising that the value of an MBA in particular is in learning and working together with your peer students, she says. “The advantage of an online programme is the international mix of students; we have over 100 different countries represented on our programme, so students can learn from other managers who have very different experiences and cultures to their own.”

For Killian, the future is exciting. “The development of new technologies and the rise of social media mean that it is a rapidly changing environment for both teaching and learning. Students will find a better and wider range of programmes from which to choose, each using these technologies in a different way.”

Laureate Online Education, the University of Liverpool’s online MBA eLearning partner, are also positive about the online MBA’s future. Vice President of Marketing, Leon James, says it is down to the reputation and quality of UK education, coupled with the benefits online learning offers working professionals. “The quality of a UK university education is undisputed, and this is one of the reasons why many of our international students choose to study with the University of Liverpool. We anticipate the continued growth of the online MBA, and online education in general, with such an interactive, flexible approach for working professionals to access higher education wherever they are in the world.”

The classroom isn’t dead but in 10 years we’ll see a very different world
Kevin Hinde, Durham Business School’s Distance Learning MBA Deputy Director of Global Learning Programmes, agrees that online technology is playing a bigger part in courses. He suspects the online MBA will grow in popularity. “MBA provision will change dramatically over the next few years. As technology improves and broadband capability gets better, opportunities will increase. The classroom isn’t dead but in 10 years we’ll see a very different world.”

Going to the next level
Ashley Arnold, director of MBA/DBA recruitment at Henley Business School has also seen “big demand” because of the uncertain economy. “People are starting to understand distance learning and courses are no longer frowned upon. For some people it’s about self-esteem and a good CV. Here, it’s all about building confidence and having the skill set and capability to go on to the next level.”

Increase earnings, promotion prospects and confidence
Resource Development International (RDI) offers MBAs from three British universities. Graduates receive the same certificate at the end of their studies as a full-time campus-based student but they have constant access to online learning materials, tutors, colleagues and support staff.
Dr Benjamin Culling, RDI’s strategic marketing manager, says interest in online MBAs is increasing because of better technology and the rise in graduate numbers. “Many students with RDI study an MBA because it is a great way to stand from the crowd and it has all the benefits of modern online study, including complete flexibility,” he explains.

According to Dr Culling, an online MBA increases earnings and promotion prospects but also boosts confidence. “Students have told us that they feel a much bigger part of the organisations they work in, with others seeking out their advice and becoming involved in larger projects.”

Students fit the learning around their lives
Edinburgh Business School is one of the largest providers globally, with 9,300 active students – half of whom are independent online learners. Students can study entirely online and end up with the same qualification as their full-time, campus-based peers. But EBS’ business director, Alick Kitchin, says the ability to mix modes of study is what makes the course unique. “A student can take one subject on campus, another at an international centre, another through 100% self study and can also mix languages – we offer the MBA in English, Arabic, Spanish, Russian and Chinese,” he explains. “We’ve taken a lot of care to make it as flexible as possible so people can do it in any order and they like it because they can fit it around their life."

By Anthea Lipsett, freelance journalist and education specialist. Originally published on Study2U.com, a directory of accredited online courses and degrees in the UK, Europe and US, established in 2003. Please contact us if you would like to contribute to the site or add your online degrees.

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