Aiming high


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Ahmad Al Ali, deputy vice chancellor of Emirates Aviation College, provides a rundown of his postgraduate course in logistics and supply chain management, which has been launched in partnership with Coventry University in the UK.

When did Emirates Aviation College establish its operations?

The college was launched by Dubai Department of Civil Aviation in 1991, with a primary focus on aviation courses.

However, this scope has gradually expanded over the years and we currently provide a range of academic programmes to suit students from around the world. Our latest addition is a postgraduate course in logistics and supply chain management, which was launched in October 2008.

Have you received a positive response for the logistics programme?

The response has been overwhelming. Despite the fact that we haven't even advertised for the course yet, 25 students have already registered.

It was a similar scenario with our postgraduate course in aviation management, which started with 25 students. Within a couple of months, we were able to recruit 48 or 50 students.

I am confident that once the public and the industry hear about this MBA in logistics and supply chain management, it will really start to take off.

What is the programme structure for this MBA course?

Under the terms of the programme, students must complete a total of eight mandatory modules, covering topics such as business strategy, financial analysis, supply chain management and logistics operations, which are followed by a 3000-5000 word dissertation.

The course is designed for professional people who are already working in the aviation, banking, real estate and logistics industries. In terms of hours, the schedule will take place in a five-day block from Friday to Tuesday and will consist of around 40 hours spent in the lecture hall.

The students are also expected to spend time in private study and each module must be completed within two months. Most of the modules we cover are assignment-based rather than exam-based.

What career opportunities can students expect to gain once they have graduated?

Dubai is a logistics hub so we do expect students to gain work in this industry. Jebel Ali is the ninth-largest port in the world and there are over 5000 companies in that location, which serve the GCC countries and beyond.

There is also the forthcoming Al Maktoum International Airport, which will employ a large number of people, Dubai Logistics City is adjacent to that and then we have Dubai Industrial City, which consists of around 500 companies.

All of these entities will employ roughly one million workers when they are fully developed and have the potential to take on graduates from this college.

What inspired you to establish a course in supply chain management?

We were hugely successful when we launched the aviation MBA in November 2007, which consists of around 180 students. We wanted to offer MBAs that were specific to a profession rather than a general masters degree and the aviation course is an example of that.

The next step was to find something that reflects what Dubai is all about, and the logistics sector is a natural fit.

As I said, we already have 25 students gained through word of mouth. We had no intention of carrying out a ‘hard sell' and I think our Emirates brand name and links with Coventry give us a real boost.

Why have you decided to form this partnership with Coventry University?

Most of our students are expatriates and for them, having a UK degree is worth a lot more than a local accredited degree. So this works well with our education establishment, which is well known for delivering solid programmes.

As our partner, Coventry University is involved in all stages to ensure that the programme is relevant and useful to industry, as well as being academically sound.

Do you plan to advertise the logistics course further to gain more students?

At the moment, we are advertising internally within Emirates, which has around 30,000 staff worldwide, but if we advertise in the local newspapers we can reach a population of 40 million in the GCC countries.

As soon as we do advertise, we expect a high number of applicants. We are in the process of accrediting our MBA programmes with the Ministry of Higher Education, which will add extra credibility to our portfolio locally.

We are also planning to launch our MBA programmes in Singapore next month to serve the Far East and in England to serve the European market, while the main MBA centre will remain here in Dubai. So we are planning to take the course beyond the Middle East region.

What sort of experience do your staff have and what are your future plans?

The programme is taught by faculty members from Coventry University and EAC. Typically, four modules are delivered by each university. Both establishments are sourcing personnel with the relevant industry experience required to deliver the courses.

For example, Nigel Woodhead, our head of logistics studies, has joined us recently and has around 20 years of experience in the industry.

He gives students a chance to gain practical experience as opposed to just academic knowledge. We try to inject a vocational element into all our programmes so that students don't go into the workplace without knowing what they are doing practically, especially as the nature of business in the Middle East is hands-on.

For the future, we are planning to launch short executive courses, which could be a modified extract from our existing MBA. It is on the agenda to get accreditation for these from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).

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Posted by: Melvin Din

This is a very visionery approach. Many learning places leave out the training component from there programmes when it comes to the business studies. Teaching students about theory of business is not enough. A combination of teaching theory and learning through practical work will equip the graduates more suitable for the workforce. According to my experience here in New Zealand and Austarlia, employers are not willing to spend more than a minimum time on training fresh employees/ new graduates. Work experience should be at least 20% of the degree programme. Vocational education provides more opprtunity in terms of skills and pride. It was later hijacked by the academics and even the polytechincs have stopped training apprentices. I see a strong need emerging in the short , to the point pre trade apprenticeship programmes in the UAE education system. A large percentage of learners will really appreciate this mode of learning . etec.net.nz

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