MBA: An AMBA light

Innovation and investment at De Montfort

ONE OF the biggest providers of business and management education in the country is the School of Business at De Montfort University, which has just moved into its new, ultra-modern beige and glass premises overlooking the river Soar.

This pounds 3.5 million development is part of the school's plan for expansion: it improves the quality of life for students and provides more space and better equipment. The ground floor is designed almost as a conference centre, with a 200-seat lecture theatre, five conference rooms, a syndicate area and coffee bar - very like the facilities at Cranfield.

But De Montfort is not only improving its physical fabric. It has received not one but three formal AMBA seals of approval from the Association of MBAs. In February it also received accreditation for its full-time MBA; also earlier this year, it won approval for its MBA in South Africa - delivered by De Montfort-recruited staff in Santon, Johannesburg and believed to be the only qualification of its kind outside Europe to carry this internationally recognised accreditation.

The third seal of approval is for De Montfort's part-time MBA, a programme which has been going for 20 years and which was conceived when De Montfort was still Leicester Polytechnic. The Association's official 1998-99 Guide to Business Schools describes the programme as "among the leaders of those being offered by the `new' universities". The school earned an "excellent" rating for teaching from the Higher Education Funding Council - a rating it shares with 18 other universities - and was awarded a 3b (the top grade is 5) in the 1996 research assessment exercise.

Some 60 per cent of students following the part-time MBA course are sponsored by their employers, and a recent survey conducted by the school found that one-third of those with the qualification gain promotion within their companies. The rest move on, most of them for bigger pay packets. The school's poll among alumni found that well over half of them earned over pounds 30,000.

Getting into the De Montfort school is no doddle, however. Many applicants for the part-time MBA are discarded at the form-submission stage. The rest are carefully interviewed, and six out of ten interviewees are accepted.

The course is hard work. It starts in October and runs for two years and seven months. A "fast track" allows high-flyers to complete within two years. Students have to attend six hours of classes a week and spend another five hours at least on private study. The full-time MBA course also starts in October and lasts 12 months, with more than 1,400 hours of tutor-directed and private study over the course of the year.

JOHN IZBICKI

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