Web chat - Barbara Allan

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Barbara Allan: "Treat others with fairness and respect"

Welcome to the Financial Times live web chat with Barbara Allan, who features in our Ten Questions Q&A.

Barbara Allan, new dean of the University of Westminster Business School in the UK, will be available to answer your questions on Thursday, 5 July 2012, between 13.00 and 14.00 BST. Post your questions now to ask@ft.com and they will be answered on the day on this page.


What do you think is the future of e-mentoring and virtual learning? How far will business schools adopt these measures?

Barbara: These approaches to learning give us great opportunities to work and learn from each other across time zones and geographical boundaries. They are flexible and environmentally friendly. Business schools will adopt them in different ways. My preference is blended learning.

Do you think that e-mentoring is as effective as face to face mentoring?

Barbara: I think it can be as effective and my research indicates that e-mentoring pairs are often very satisfied with the experience. It requires a slightly different skillset and time spent on learning to make the most of the virtual process.

How do you identify mentors and do you ask formally for them to mentor you or is it more natural than that?

Barbara: There are lots of different approaches to mentoring. At a personal level, someone may identify and ask an appropriate person to mentor them. Many organisations offer formal mentoring schemes and they will recruit mentors internally or through professional and industry networks.

What made you decide to move from Hull to Westminster Business School? Do you enjoy living in London?

Barbara: The move gave me a great promotion opportunity and it means that I am leading a well established school and one which is growing and becoming more international. The university is brilliant with a great focus on the student experience and their professional development. My research interests fit well too.

I am loving living in London - it’s very exciting, particularly with the run up to the Olympics.

How is the job of a dean different from that of a professor?

Barbara: As dean, I am leading a large and complex organisation - more than 180 staff and 4,000 students. Professors lead research and research teams. We have a growing number professors in the school.

Do you have any plans for increasing the number of female teaching staff at your business school?

Barbara: We recruit on the basis of skills and experience - the best person for the job. The university has a very diverse workforce and this is a real strength.

Do you think the UK Border Agency policy on student visas, and work visas for graduates, will have a detrimental effect on your business school and on higher education in the UK more generally?

Barbara: Students come to the UK because of our high quality education system and univerisites. In the school, our international applications for 12/13 are very healthy. I understand the government is rethinking the current policy and its impact on higher education. This is good news.

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