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Alex Cruz hopes to make Manchester proud in more ways than one. As student president of the full-time MBA class at Manchester Business School, he is a keen advocate for the institution, one of the oldest in the UK and among the most respected in Europe.

But “Make Manchester Proud” is also the name of the not-for-profit organisation for which he worked as one of his three compulsory projects on the course. As well as the not-for-profit assignment, participants must complete both a UK and an international business consultancy project. Fitting them all into the 18-month programme, along with nine months of core courses, is a tight squeeze but gives the Manchester MBA its particular character, says Cruz. “It is the practical approach that makes the programme different.”

The philosophy of hands-on management runs through the school’s veins. Even its core courses include work on interpersonal skills, says Mark Batey, lecturer in organisational psychology. “What they [MBAs] perceive they need are technical skills, but management skills are what determine how far you get,” he says.

The level of organisation required to set up the consultancy projects and the highly personalised elements of many of the MBA courses limits the size of the class. Elaine Ferneley, MBA director at the school, says the strategy is to limit the yearly intake to roughly 150 students. This year, just 128 have enrolled.

Although the full-time MBA class remains relatively small, Manchester is one of the largest business schools in Europe, with undergraduate degrees, more than 20 masters degrees, a blended learning MBA on five of its campuses, doctoral degrees and non-degree executive short courses. In October this year, it will launch a masters in management degree – a one-year pre-experience degree intended, according to Gary Davies, professor of corporate reputation, for “someone with an engineering or science degree or someone in the performing arts”. He predicts the course will be “the future star of international business schools. That’s the way the market is going.”

But growing most over recent years has been the part-time international MBA, which combines face-to-face and online learning. It is taught in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Miami, and with a partner school, Fundação Getulio Vargas, in Brazil.

Professor Michael Luger, the dean, says the school is now launching alumni and career services in all locations. However, the biggest development over the past year for Manchester Business School has been the establishment of a US campus in Miami.

For Prof Luger, himself an American, it is another case of making Manchester proud.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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