Don't Give Up Your Day Job ; DISTANCE LEARNING ++ the Internet Has Helped Make Distance Learning a Viable Alternative, Says Nic Paton
Paton, Nic, The Independent (London, England)
Love or loathe them- and business schools remain sharply divided about their merits - distance learning MBAs are becoming an increasingly popular option.
According to the latest statistics from the Association of MBAs (AMBA), take-up rates for distance learning MBAs have gone up by 80 per cent in the past decade, with around 2,500 of the estimated 12,000 MBA students at any one time in the UK now doing a distance learning qualification.
It's not hard to see why. Rather than having to give up work or put the career on holds, the internet and e-learning technology have made it much easier to do an MBA alongside the day job. The growth in part-time executive MBAs, which have a strong distance learning element, is another factor. Traditionally targeted at senior managers, EMBAs are becoming a popular choice for middle ranking managers, says Dr Andy Bailey, director of Lancaster University Management School's executive MBA. "What we're seeing is an increasing number of executive MBA students in their late twenties who see that gaining the qualification needs to run alongside their progression within their or-ganisation," he points out.
Yet of the 119 MBA programmes accredited by AMBA, it is still only a minority - 27, of which only 11 are specialist - that offer an online or distance learning curriculum. So anyone going down this route needs to ask serious questions before taking the plunge.
These should include: what should I expect to pay, how long should I expect it to take and what sort of support will I get if, as is more than likely, I have a wobble?
AMBA recommends a distance learning programme should be at least 1,800 hours, with a minimum of 120 hours of face-to-face contact, and should normally be able to be completed in two to three years. But many students will take much longer. Warwick Business School suggests anything up to eight years is acceptable, while the Open University Business School (OUBS) argues six. When it comes to cost, there are large variations - with Warwick andHenleyManagementCollege charging around [pound]13,000 compared to just under [pound]6,500 at Leicester University Management Centre. Methods of delivery vary widely too. Most offer a mix of remote learning with occasional face- to-face seminars or workshops and residential exams, often through centres in different countries. Some, such as the OUBS, run local tutorials and others, such as Warwick and Bradford University School of Management, allow students to transfer to different modes of study or take face-to-face modules.
Some schools run "global" EMBAs using distance learning but split between different countries. Barcelona's IESE, for instance, splits modules between Madrid, Barcelona, Shanghai and Silicon Valley, with exams taken online. …