Smart moves: The A-Z of Business Schools - The Birmingham Business School

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The Independent Online
Age: 96.

History: Oldest business school in England. Set up as part of spanking new Birmingham University at the beginning of the century to service the needs of Brum and the Black Country. First English university to get its hands dirty by offering business degree called the BCom. That may not have endeared it to the academic nobs but Asians loved it and flocked to enrol.

Address: MBA students are housed in a former private house belonging to the Cadbury family in its own grounds - a half-timbered, wood-panelled job built in 1899 - a welcome antidote to the prevailing redbrick campus and 1960s concrete.

Ambience: Surprisingly uninstitutional. Friendly staff. Easy access to university facilities, so you can pedal the night away in the exercise room, go for a quick swim or a run round the leafy Edgbaston campus. To hone leadership skills, students are whisked off to the outdoor pursuits centre at Coniston for a bit of collective suffering.

Vital statistics: MBA course dates back to 1985. There is a full-time MBA with 225 students; a part-time with 170 students; and an MBA taught to 200 overseas students in Singapore, Bangkok and, shortly, in Kuala Lumpur. Part-time degrees can be studied via the conventional route in the evenings or the modular route on eight 10-day blocks plus a project. Overseas MBA is modular.

Added value: Embraced globalisation before it became a word on everyone's lips. In fact, globalisation is at the heart of the MBA. Options include international and European business. Or you can do a European MBA, involving six months at ESC Montpellier, or an MBA in international banking and finance.

Easy to get into? You need a first degree and a minimum of three to five years' management experience, though it's possible, in certain circumstances, to gain entry without a degree. In fact, graduate school has just launched its version of an access course with the local chamber of commerce. Those without a degree, but with business experience, study for a diploma in business administration and then hop on to the MBA.

Glittering alumni: Hiroki Mitsui, son of the founder of the giant Japanese conglomerate of the same name; Stephen Littlechild, electricity regulator and former professor at the business school who invented the prices formula for privatised industries, the RPI index; Sir Alex Jarrett, former chairman of Reed International, chancellor of the university and chairman of the Jarrett committee on university governance; Sir Peter Walters, chairman of SmithKline Beecham; Sir Ian Prosser, chairman, Bass Group; Michael Vogel, managing director, Framlington Investment Trust.

International connections: Go back to the university's foundation when Japanese and White Russians signed up. Today there are 42 nationalities on full-time MBA. Erasmus links in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Jointly taught and awarded MBA with the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Montpellier.

Research: Awarded a grade 4. Aiming for top grade 5.

Student profile: Amazingly, the full-time MBA has a male- female ratio of 50:50. Average age on full-time MBA is 29. On the part- time it's 35.

Example of management speak: A full and detailed analysis of whole-life costs (I'm not going to be fobbed off with a cheap PC).

Cost: pounds 7,200 (home students) pounds 8,500 (overseas).

What do you get for the money? 30 per cent salary hike.

Who's the boss? Colin Rickwood, professor of management accounting, who went to school with the Richardsons but survived to tell the tale.

Next week: Bradford.

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