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Posts Tagged ‘rankings’

It was such a beautiful morning at Henley this morning. When I arrived the last of some early morning mists, early autumnal in the way the light shone in shafts through the leafy branches and onto the lawns. I took one or two pictures on my phone, which I have attached at the end of this post.

Otherwise, I’m in a period of interesting challenges. Plenty of Personal Development workshops to keep me busy (and a few coming up which involve travel), as well as a few newer and therefore somewhat ‘off piste’. I’m preparing a one and half day session on Personal Development (so far so good) for a group of senior HR directors (Ok) from AVIC of China (more intriguing) to be delivered with consecutive translation to and from Chinese (yikes!). That’s at the start of November, and will be delivered over on the Whiteknights campus (a first for me), where everyone looks very young. Well, not the faculty.

Next up will be short presentations to the management teams of two companies in South Africa, which I will do either side of delivering a one-day workshop for one of the MBA intakes. My topic, no surprises, will be “Reflection – seeing the world with fresh eyes”. One of the companies deals with entertainment, TV and all sorts of media, and the other operates a fleet of private ambulances (including air ambulances). Don’t know what they’ll learn, but I’m sure I’ll come out of it wiser.

The Economist rankings for 2011 for the full-time MBA came out yesterday and Henley slipped from 17 to 57, which was a real disappointment. I have no doubt that next year will show a rise, possibly a big one since the Economist allows for more movement year on year than, for example, the FT. The rankings have a weight to them which is actually very unhealthy. Their origins lie in the attempt to gain credibility for the business press so that they could maintain circulation rates. They don’t celebrate diversity and they probably are responsible for some schools taking attention away from innovation on their MBA programmes. That’s not a criticism, either of the newspapers/magazines or of the business schools that want to do well in the rankings, but we should acknowledge things as they are. Most schools will want to play it safe and seek a strong position in a ranking, especially where recruitment of international students is important. But rankings are, ultimately, counter-productive to the occupation of a niche (how can one occupy a niche AND be compared with everyone else?).

In a couple of weeks, our new full-time MBA students start arriving. I’m really looking forward to it, partly as I’ll be trying my hand as Personal Tutor. So far, I have only tutored the Exec MBA group. Not that that’s not great fun…..!

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Last week the Economist published a supplement called “Distance Learning Special 2101: Which MBA?” 

The report, available to download here , (the link sometimes doesn’t get you the whole Pdf, be warned) “rates”, not “ranks” a number of DL programmes. What I quite like about this is first that it doesn’t pretend that you can easily rank programmes such as this (in fact, the whole idea of a ranking is pretty ludicrous when you think about it since it squashes innovation) and instead provides the results of people rating various, fairly sensible, aspects of distance education.

However, since much of the input comes from current students, the problem is that (as any fule ‘kno) if you ask students in the US to rate anything, they will invariably rate it very high, and if you ask anyone in the UK to rate something, centuries of restraint and decorum prevent them from ticking the top box. So there is a correlation between whether the programme listed has a major US influence or component, or whether is has a strong British dimension.  

That said, Henley comes out of it comparable to Warwick and better than OU, Aston, Bradford, Imperial and Royal Holloway (the other UK schools rated). We come nowhere near Florida, IE or Thunderbird. In Florida and IE’s case, closer examination reveals that these are actually much more like our Exec MBA in price, cohort size, length and frequency of campus delivery, so more comparison of “apples” with “oranges”, in my opinion. Florida’s program is unusual in the US market, but would not really be considered a DL programme over here.

 The dark horse is the Euro*MBA, a consortium DL MBA between 6 European schools.  However, even that seems to have a relatively small number of students. Henley, OU and Warwick are the ones which have scaled up and managed to maintain some seriousness. There are a few minor factual errors in the description of our MBA, but I’ve never seen a piece of journalism about Henley that didn’t contain at least one mistake.

As for us, we seem to be rated in the upper “average” band for “Overall”, “Programme Content” and “Effectiveness of Distance Learning elements”, and “Good” in “Quality of fellow students”.

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