Birmingham University, School of Public Policy

Age: The school and public service MBA programme are both 18 years old, but the university is a venerable 108.

History: The largest School of Public Policy in Europe, with more than 100 academic staff. It has highly regarded, long-established specialist units in local government, health services, urban and regional studies and international development. The public service MBA was the first of its kind when it was launched in 1990, and is the first outside a business or management school to be AMBA-accredited.

Ambience: Friendly and welcoming. Teaching takes place at Park House, which is separate from the hurly-burly of the campus but within walking distance of its centre.

Vital statistics: The public service MBA is now delivered in several streams. The international option (with around 30 students participating full-time) is designed for managers from developing countries or transitional economies. The public and voluntary sector stream is designed for current managers from the UK public, private and third sectors and other advanced economies, and attracts mainly part-timers. The programme is recognised by the UK Cabinet Office for civil servants.

Added value: It's for those whose career interests are particularly dedicated to the delivery of public or voluntary services.

Easy to get into? You normally need a good first degree, or equivalent professional qualification, and a minimum of five years' relevant work experience. However, some candidates can be admitted without a first degree if they have strong managerial experience in relevant organisations.

Glittering alumni: Sir Michael Bichard, former permanent secretary, Department of Education; Martin Wargent, chief executive, Probation Boards Association; Stella Manzie, chief executive, Coventry City Council; Ziggi Alexander, former head of human resources at Kings Hospital and chair of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work.

International connections: Its international development department has a global reputation, and the school has strong links with several European and US business schools.

Student profile: Full-time and part-time intakes for the public service MBA have an equal ratio of males to females and an average age of 35.

Cost: Public and voluntary sector (part-time) MBA is £6,700 per year; international and UK (full-time) MBA is £13,300; and the international (distance learning) MBA is £9,500 including summer school.

Return on investment: A much better understanding of public management theory and practice, and lots of interesting contacts.

Who's the boss? Professor Edward Peck is the school's director.

Prospectus: +44 (0)121 414 3176; www.publicpolicy.bham.ac.uk

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