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Nigel Banister, chief global officer of MBS and CEO of MBS Worldwide explains the advantages of earning an MBA.

Nigel Banister, chief global officer of MBS and CEO of MBS Worldwide explains the advantages of earning an MBA.

Manchester Business School Worldwide: bringing the world-class Manchester Masters of Business Administration (MBA) to the Middle East.

Manchester Business School, ranked one of the top 50 business schools in the world by the Financial Times (2009), has triple MBA accreditation (from AMBA, EQUIS and AACSB) and offers world-class MBA programmes globally through eight international centres. MBS awards the same degree to all its students - the ‘Manchester MBA' is recognised by employers worldwide as a hallmark qualification.

MBS Worldwide launched its Middle East regional centre in September 2006, at Dubai Knowledge Village in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and already supports around 600 MBA students.

MBS Worldwide in the Middle East offers three specialist MBA programmes in engineering, finance, and the unique MBA for construction executives. The latest addition is the Global MBA - a general MBA which brings together general management elements with a focus on leadership, innovation and internationalism.

All the programmes are designed for working professionals and delivered through a blended learning format which guarantees at least 250 hours of face to face workshops with Manchester faculty, conveniently hosted in Dubai.

The DBA - Doctor of Business Administration - is a logical extension to the MBA programme and has been ranked first in the world by the FT for two consecutive years (2008, 2009).

Why did Manchester Business School launch a regional centre in the UAE/Middle East?

The rapidly emerging economies of the region, world-class infrastructure and communications, government support for business and the large number of well educated business professionals (many of them working in an English language environment) were all contributing factors.

What programmes does the school offer?

We selected the MBA programmes for the region based on anticipated needs and demand. In the Middle East, we offer three specialist MBA programmes and a doctoral programme - DBA - in the Middle East. Our latest programme is the Global MBA - a general MBA programme with its first student intake in July 2009.

What is your view of business education in the GCC and what benefits do you offer your students?

The business education sector is developing rapidly and students are looking for the quality that comes with a top ranked business school and accredited programmes; flexible format is also an important benefit.

MBS scores highly on return on investment (a recent Forbes survey ranked the school 3rd in the world outside the US for ROI) and the ultimate qualification is an MBA awarded by the University of Manchester. Once graduated, Manchester MBAs join an international network of alumni.

What sort of students are you attracting in the Middle East?

Our selection criteria are the same as those for the full-time programme on campus.

We offer post experience MBAs, so we look for candidates who are over 27 years old with a good first degree, management experience and the qualities to enrich the programme. We are impressed by the quality/numbers of students and the feedback from our UK tutors is very positive; our students compare very favourably with the campus students and generally have a broader range of work and life experiences and cultural insights.

Are you planning to expand and in which areas?

MBS Worldwide is expanding rapidly and in the Middle East we plan to increase capacity and introduce new MBA programme options - such as the Global MBA - that will meet demand from the public sector to marketing, HR to retailing, healthcare to law. Discussions are taking place with employer organisations in the region and we expect to start working on corporate MBA programmes. Where do you see your students going in the future and your graduates in the time being?

Our first Middle East students have just graduated and their potential - and current students - is clear; we attract students working at very senior levels, from CEOs to partners to business owners and they are performing to a very high standard; our aim is to help prepare business leaders and enrich their lives in the process.

What are the advantages of blended learning?

Taking a career break to meet the rigorous demands of a full-time MBA often isn't practical. Flexibility is key and a part-time MBA opens up opportunities for working students. Our MBA programmes combine self study, face to face workshops, online collaborations and e-learning, mirroring the business workplace.

In a crowded MBA market and an uncertain economic climate, why study for an MBA now?

Economic downturns traditionally mark a surge in applications to business schools, as people see an opportunity for a career break. Some argue that there's never been a better time to study at a top business school, as the MBA is increasingly seen as a pre-requisite for a serious career in international business.

Our student applications in the Middle East rose by 18 percent for the January 2009 intake (compared to the July 2008 intake).

How are MBA programmes developing?

There is an increasing emphasis on using business for social benefit and business schools are leading the way with new courses on corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship and doing business in developing countries. MBS has recently been selected to host the University of Manchester's Sustainable Consumption Institute, funded by Tesco.

MBAs will benefit from engaging in live projects through the centre - putting the business theory they learn into practice.

How can MBA programmes and business schools stay relevant to real world business?

There's no doubt that strong MBA programmes benefit from links with the private sector and MBS takes advantage of Manchester fast becoming one of the world's most important cities for research, development, innovation and academic excellence. We encourage faculty to engage with global and regional businesses to solve real operational issues through consultancy and research projects - giving our MBAs access to the very latest thinking.

How should a student choose an MBA programme/school?

An MBA is a huge commitment and identifying the programme that best fits your needs is key - in terms of your work experience, programme content and your career objectives.

When the going gets tough, employers become more discerning and it's vital that you select an MBA that will enhance your skill set. An MBA from a well-respected business school sets you apart.

Can you tell us about the Manchester Innovation Award?

The MBS Worldwide inaugural ‘Manchester Innovation Award' in the UAE, launched in coordination with the Khalifa Fund to Support and Develop Small & Medium Enterprises, aims to help encourage Emirati businesspeople to realise their potential.

It is open to all Emiratis aged 20 and over, and the winner will benefit from support in the development of the winning business innovation.

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