MBAs plug into remote study

Distance learning is proving to be a popular choice, finds Russ Thorne

Choosing to get your MBA qualification by distance learning may mean working independently but you certainly won’t be alone in your efforts. The popularity of studying long distance is rising among prospective candidates both overseas and in the UK, with a growing number of institutions offering flexible programmes.

Just as the MBA has evolved over the past few decades, with new offshoots, specialisms and a widening appeal beyond the confines of senior management, so too have the ways in which students access their courses. More than 8,000 students now subscribe to the University of Leicester’s distance learning programmes. Oxford Brookes University offers 200 examination centres in 140 countries for its long-distance learners when exam time comes. For 2011, the number of students signing up to Durham University’s global MBA trebled.

Imperial College Business School has also reported a “significant rise in course registrations” for its MBA programmes, according to a spokesman from the school’s partner, Study Group, which manages the delivery of the distance learning element. This is partly a result of more effective marketing, which may affect all business schools now that insight into a course can be a tweet away, but Study Group also says the economic climate plays a role. The spokesperson says: “Organisations are less likely to want to send their executives to the UK for a prolonged period of time and prefer to offer them flexible working plans and time dedicated to distance learning MBA study instead.”

Flexibility is perhaps one of the key factors making the distance learning option appealing to both overseas and UK students, as it allows them more control over when and how they study. Rhona Peat, a final-year student on the new global energy MBA offered by Warwick Business School, believes distance learning “gives you the ability to fit studying around other things. I think that becomes much more important for those with families – being able to choose when to study rather than having to attend weekend and evening lectures is very useful.”

Depending on where you are based and the MBA path you follow, there can also be cost benefits attached to a distance course. Study Group’s spokesperson points out that international students at Imperial College are spared the costs of living in the UK for the four-year duration of the programme. With MBA courses potentially spread over five years, distance learning also allows candidates at home and abroad to continue in their careers, helping both their finances and their professional development.

The delivery of courses varies between institutions, but webinars, virtual classrooms and online study forums contribute to study programmes, as do multimedia materials alongside textbooks.

As with any MBA, the learning curve for students includes adjusting to learning in isolation. “In the beginning it was quite challenging working remotely,” says Peat, “but once you have made contacts on the course you have enough of a support network that it doesn’t impact on your studies that much.”

Study Group agrees, pointing out that the online study environment “actually exposes students to a highly diverse global audience who can provide real-life examples for the MBA from their current job roles”. And as businesses increasingly span continents and work in the virtual sphere, it makes sense for MBAs to reflect this.

However, business still demands some pressing of the flesh, and students don’t spend all their time at their screens. Many courses have a mandatory face-to-face element. Imperial College students must attend a three-week module to apply their theoretical knowledge in the real world; Oxford Brookes runs face-to-face workshops; and Warwick’s MBA programmes require students to visit the campus several times during the course for residential sessions.

These meetings emphasise the fact that, when studying for an MBA via distance learning, being removed doesn’t mean being remote. Peat’s advice to those embarking on a course is the same as it might be for those following a more traditional programme: build a network, and make the most of it. “Take part in online discussions with fellow students and lecturers and attend online lectures,” she concludes. “I believe that interaction is one of the most important outcomes from MBAs.”

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Long Term Primary Teacher - Stockport - Start ASAP

£90 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Primary: Experienced Primary...

Science Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - South Es...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering