From the PM to the Dragons' Den, reasons for the Scottish to be proud

Sophie Morris explores the wealth of opportunities for students north of the border
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The Independent Online

Despite a rocky few months, Prime Minister Gordon Brown remains quite the poster child for his native Scotland. His springboard to the premiership was a solid Scottish education – he gained a PhD at the University of Edinburgh – making his success a wonderful advertisement for education north of the border.

What's more, a string of successful Scottish business people such as Duncan Bannatyne from Dragons' Den and Michelle Mone, the Ultimo bra tycoon who appears on The Apprentice, suggest there is more than a little entrepreneurial know-how in the region too.

The wealth of MBAs on offer in Scotland reflect this. In Edinburgh, which was voted Britain's best city to live in last year, prospective students can choose between the University of Edinburgh Management School, Napier University Business School and Heriot-Watt University's Edinburgh Business School. Elsewhere, the Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University, Strathclyde's Graduate Business School in Glasgow and the University of Glasgow's Business School all offer full- and part-time MBA courses.

Of these, only Heriot-Watt and Napier are not accredited by the Association of MBAs. Napier University Business School was voted the top new university for studying business and management in one league table last year and has applied for AMBA accredition. Heriot-Watt features in a list by The Economist of the top 100 business schools internationally, alongside Strathclyde, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Heriot-Watt, explains its business director Alick Kitchen, stands out because of the flexibility of the online course it offers. The modular programme of nine courses can be taken in any order, wherever you live or how you wish to study. Six and a half thousand students of the 9,000 currently registered have taken an exam over the past 12 months and each subject costs £800, plus a £100 exam fee.

"We don't see ourselves as in competition with other Scottish MBAs," says Kitchin, "because what we offer is significantly different." The international reach of Heriot-Watt's course is evidenced by the fact that you can now study for it in Spanish, Arabic or Chinese. Some students, however, may find the loneliness of this kind of distance learning hard to take. You need to be determined.

Napier has run its MBA for 18 years and introduced a flexible, three-year option six years ago. Just last year the course was rewritten from scratch to incorporate more material on corporate social responsibility, ethics and business sustainability. A recent £30m campus renovation means it boasts some of the most attractive facilities on offer. The full-time MBA costs £9,985 for EU students, £10,715 for non-EU. The flexible course is £2,850 a year.

Inger Seiferheld is the MBA programme director at Edinburgh's Management School which, with 25 years experience, is one of the oldest MBA providers in the UK. Seiferheld believes the city of Edinburgh and its buzzing business scene, a hotbed of venture capitalists, is the main draw for prospective MBA students. "We consider the whole world our market," she explains.

With North Sea oil reserves close at hand, it is no surprise that Edinburgh has very good connections with energy giants Wood Mackenzie and Cairn Energy, where some students take up internship opportunities. On the 15-month international business course, study exchange programmes can be taken up with business schools in the US, Shanghai, Sydney and Copenhagen, among others. The MBA costs £22,800 and the international business course is £24,100. Studying part-time costs £16,450.

Over in Glasgow, Strathclyde's Graduate School of Business is the place to go if heritage is your thing: it was the first school in the UK to offer a full-time one-year MBA, in 1966, as well as being the first in the UK to offer part-time and distance-learning courses and a DBA, a Doctor of Business Administration. Course fees are £18,500 full-time, £13,300 part-time (most students complete the course within three years) and £10,128 for the flexible online course.

The University of Glasgow, a member of the Russell Group of leading research universities, is also a pioneer in business education and provided the first business-related courses back in the Fifties. Today its full-time MBA costs £13,000 for EU residents and £16,000 for others; the two-year part-time course is £6,500 per year.

In addition to its standard full- and part-time and online MBAs, Aberdeen Business School offers a range of specialist courses, including MBAs in agribusiness and food business management, oil and gas management – new in 2007 – and a transport strategy and management course to be launched this year. Course costs are £14,350 for full-time students, both EU and international, and £4,585 per year for the part-time option.

All of the Scottish courses attract students from a wide variety of countries as well as their surrounding areas, and the quality and affordability of life in Scotland is certainly a boon compared to London schools.

Spoilt for choice? Seiferheld, from Edinburgh's Management School, says undertaking an MBA course is a big commitment, and potential students should give their choice of institution careful consideration. "Give it a test-drive," she advises. "You really need to find out that the school is the right one. It has to fit and students have to feel at home there."

'I was impressed by the IT and library facilities'

Rajinderpal Singh, 28, is an Indian student from Kashmir who is studying on the full-time, one-year programme at Napier University Business School.



When I was looking for a university I did a lot of research online, but friends had recommended Napier to me. As I was already studying for a Masters in physiotherapy in Edinburgh I knew I liked the city, and when I visited Napier I was particularly impressed by the IT and library facilities.

It has always been my dream to have my own business, but I want to work with some big organisations, perhaps a pharmaceutical or bioengineering company, first. I have enjoyed all of the modules at Napier, especially international business, the environment and human resources. I have developed my knowledge and skills in all areas, but the teachers have incorporated how to respond to new challenges in any organisation, whether your own or a multi-national, especially well

I would like to work in marketing and am ready to move, depending on the opportunity, but if I am able to stay in Scotland I would be very happy to do so.

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