Fresh from celebrating its 15th anniversary in January this year, the Euro*MBA distance-learning programme is still going strong.
Students, alumni and staff celebrated for two days in Maastricht with various events and activities. This included a bike ride in the caves of Valkenburg and prizes awarded to the top students from each course.
Alumni and students also took part in a workshop on how to use a specialised software system to create discussion groups. There was plenty of socialising, and a graduation ceremony followed by a disco.
Stuart Dixon, director of the Euro*MBA, points out that if participants are not enjoying themselves then they will not survive the programme, as it is “heavy going”.
The average study time is 15 hours a week, and some students have full-time jobs and families. This can be a considerable commitment, when you take into account the average time to finish the programme is two-and-a-half years.
Euro*MBA is formed by a consortium of six business schools: Audencia Nantes Ecole de Management (France); Eada (Spain); HHL-Leipzig Graduate School of Management (Germany); IAE Aix Graduate School of Management (France); Kozminsky University (Poland) and Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (the Netherlands).
The MBA is a blended learning programme mixing 10 online courses and face-to-face sessions. Participants are required to attend an introductory seminar and six residential weeks, each one taking place at one of the partner schools in turn.
Students come from countries including Angola, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador – providing a good chance to learn about different cultures.
The aim of Euro*MBA is to bring together a global and diverse group and to educate international managers. During a course, students work in groups and – to ensure diversity – there are at least three nationalities in each team.
Diversity is behind Euro*MBA’s success, says Mr Dixon. With people from different cultures and professions “it is a unique and lasting experience that participants will never forget,” he adds.
He also mentions that the face-to-face element is important for sharing ideas and networking. For example, an alumnus who set up his own business looked to the Euro*MBA alumni association, hoping to raise funding.
There was also the possibility that someone from the network could provide skills to help with his project.
“Being an international consortium, this exploits the competencies of the six partners,” says Mr Dixon.
The residential weeks are themed, giving students an opportunity to engage in contemporary business issues.
For instance, the theme at the Audencia residential was corporate social responsibility (CSR), as the school has an international research centre focusing on this subject so it can teach CSR at a higher level.
Company visits help students gain an idea of how different businesses work.
At the HHL-Leipzig residential, the theme was “green innovation”, covering environmental issues. This involved a tour at the Leipzig Porsche plant to gain an insight into the automotive sector and a chance to discuss management issues with company directors. Students even had the opportunity to be driven around the test track in one of the cars.
Other MBA programmes will have difficulty competing with the exposure participants receive to the six specialisms of the schools, says Mr Dixon. “With the power of the six, their specialisms are readily available themes. There is no need to recruit faculty externally, as Euro*MBA does everything in-house,” he says.
The MBA is a general degree, meaning there is no opportunity to specialise. Students have to study every course in the syllabus, including management accounting and human resource management.
The courses offered are essential elements of management education.
As students tend to specialise in their first degree, it is good to expose them to a general business and management education, explains Mr Dixon.
For those interested in applying, Mr Dixon emphasises that the admissions process is becoming more selective and the toughest question applicants will face is “What do you offer?”
The amount of work experience they have matters, as students learn from each other by sharing their experiences during discussions.
Through this process, they can get an idea of how other companies operate.
The minimum work experience required is five years, with the average being 11 years.
Mr Dixon adds: “We would like to build a reputation of being the number-one blended learning MBA in the world. We want to develop professionals and make them successful.
“If we can achieve that, we will have succeeded in our goals.”