Ashridge, the UK business school, is to relaunch its MBA programme from September, introducing two start dates a year and aligning the full-time and executive programmes.

In order to introduce a September and an April start date for the MBA and EMBA - an MBA degree for working managers - the modules have been redesigned to be “sequence neutral”, says Narendra Laljani, the director at Ashridge with responsibility for qualification programmes. Combining the two programmes will mean participants can switch between modes of study, but the format will also enable participants on both programmes to build a larger network of colleagues. “We’ll have the ability to teach at scale without losing the individual attention,” says Prof Laljani.

Ashridge has traditionally has very small numbers of participants on its one-year full-time MBA programme, often fewer than 20. This is in part because its intake is a much more senior manager than is traditional: the average age of a full-time MBA participant at Ashridge is 36. The school is hoping that the redesigned programme will encourage more applications.

The relaunched programme will focus on real-time assessment rather than examinations and will include five live case studies, in which students go into companies to report on the strategy, marketing and so on. Every student will complete a major consulting project. Courses will be grouped under three themes: leading change; creating value; managing sustainability; and managing globally.

Though Ashridge offers a Masters of Management degree through online study, the MBA will remain a face-to-face experience, says Prof Laljani. “A good MBA offers a behavioural experience; online learning is a cognitive experience.”

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