The A-Z of Business Schools: Aston University Business School

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Age: 50.

History: One of the grand old men of British business schools, began life as the department of management of Birmingham Central technical college, which later became Aston college of technology and then Aston University.

Address: On an amazing green-field campus, smack in the middle of Birmingham, it has the benefit of being part of a university that is heavily into technology and engineering.

Ambience: Location is handy for shopping and Birmingham New Street station, 10 minutes' walk away. Business school is housed in two parts: brand new red-brick Nelson building, designed by Basil Spence, which is part-academic and part-conference centre; and the south wing of the main Art Deco university building (said to be the largest edifice in Europe).

Vital statistics: One of the biggest business schools in Europe, with a long track record. Does everything from undergraduate courses to management development to MBAs to doctorates. MBA programmes began 20 years ago. Full-time MBA (162 students) lasts a year and ends with a three-month, in-company project. Part-time MBA (350 students) can take up to five years. School is busy and expanding further, hiring five more professors.

Added value: Boasts an innovative distance-learning MBA, which makes it one of the most flexible in the country. Claims to be the only business school in the UK to offer a distance-learning MBA by video: lectures are recorded on video, and the videos are then sent to students along with study materials, ensuring students receive the same diet as those on campus.

Easy to get into? Minimum requirement is a degree - though exceptional candidates are taken without degrees - and three years' management experience. Plus GMAT, in some cases.

Association of MBAs accreditation: Yes.

Glittering alumni: Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby; Greg Hutchings, chief executive of Tomkins plc; Vassilis Tsilibaris, vice-president of Citibank Athens; Jason Tsai, who runs his own computer company.

Visiting professors: Coming shortly, Susan Douglas, professor of international business from New York's Columbia University, and Professor Fu, China's leading authority on branding.

Research: Achieved a grade four (out of five) in the 1996 research-assessment exercise. Aiming higher for the millennium.

Placements with firms: Prides itself on close links with companies. Has a placement office in the business school.

International links: Close connections with European business schools through the Erasmus programme. Also has study visits to Lille and Barcelona and the possibility of doing one term in Maastricht. Full-time MBA takes students from 19 countries.

Student profile: Domestic students tend to be local. Average age on full- time MBA is 29; on part-time 31. Two men to every woman on full-time MBA.

Example of management speak: Slam-dunk spamming (cheap and dirty way to advertise on the Internet).

Cost: pounds 8,750 for domestic and EU students; pounds 10,500 for overseas.

What do you get for your money? Promotion, better job, more money. Last year, one graduate was hired by international construction firm Balfour Beatty as business development manager for the Arab world and Africa.

Who's the boss? Wise-cracking Prof John Saunders, who has just arrived from Loughborough and co-authored best-selling textbook, Principles of Marketing, with Philip Cottler. Next year, he will be the first British president of the European Academy of Marketing.

Next week: Bath.