The University of Manchester Middle East Centre in Dubai has successfully transitioned its blended learning, part-time MBA programme to online platforms Video Credit: Supplied

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For part-time Master’s students, the opportunity for face-to-face contact with faculty and peers is a valuable part of their overall student experience. The Manchester Global Part-time MBA in Dubai provides as much face-to-face contact time with faculty and peers as many full-time MBA programmes.

University of Manchester
The University of Manchester Middle East Centre in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

pc小群正规群For many of us in self-confinement, it can feel like the Covid-19 pandemic has put the world on hold as we wait to break free again. One of the world’s best universities has been working hard to ensure effective learning programmes for its part-time students in the region.

The University of Manchester Middle East Centre in Dubai has successfully transitioned its blended learning, part-time MBA programme to online platforms to ensure the continuity of education for students, all working professionals, during the suspension of face-to-face teaching.

pc小群正规群For part-time Master’s students, the opportunity for face-to-face contact with faculty and peers is a valuable part of their overall student experience. The Manchester Global Part-time MBA in Dubai provides as much face-to-face contact time with faculty and peers as many full-time MBA programmes.

pc小群正规群“We strongly believe in the benefits of our face-to-face workshops as part of our blended learning approach for the Global MBA but the fast evolving pandemic presented us with a dilemma: how can we provide uninterrupted continuity for our students' MBA journeys whilst minimising any potential impact on the student experience?” says Xavier Duran, Director of MBA Programmes, Alliance Manchester Business School. “Working with all our academics, e-learning technologists and administrative teams, we decided to put all our efforts to develop and deliver virtual workshops, at short notice. Our guiding principle was to deliver learning outcomes as effectively and interactively as the technology allowed. This was certainly a great challenge, given the unusual teaching and learning approach and the very short time we had to train academics, redesign workshop structures and work out logistics.”

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The Middle East Centre is the largest and fastest growing in the University’s international network and has supported over 2,700 part-time Master’s students, and graduated over 1,700 students Image Credit: Supplied

Ideal for working professionals

pc小群正规群The University’s part-time Master’s programmes offered through the Middle East Centre in Dubai, whether it is an MBA, Real Estate Management Master’s degree, or the Master’s in Educational Leadership in Practice, are all challenging academic programmes for working professionals who have to balance work, life and study.

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented an additional level of complexity for students but, together with extraordinary support from the team at the Dubai centre, they have enjoyed continuity in their educational experience.

pc小群正规群The University launched the Middle East Centre in 2006, and the years of experience in delivering blended learning programmes for working professionals in the region has paid off, as the team was able to transition students smoothly to online platforms. The centre is the largest and fastest growing in the University’s international network and has supported over 2,700 part-time Master’s students, and graduated over 1,700.

pc小群正规群When face-to-face teaching and workshops were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Middle East Centre and the Global Part-time MBA students in the region embarked on a new collective learning experience, as planned MBA workshops in Dubai were quickly virtualised to ensure the continuity of the study programme.

Since the start of the pandemic and suspension of face-to-face workshops, the Middle East Centre’s virtual engagement programme has included a series of faculty-led virtual MBA workshops for 300 MBA students from all over the world. This was the first experience of online interactive learning for many students, who joined from different time zones, and who welcomed and appreciated the opportunity to continue their studies.

Forbes recognised the Global MBA programme as the Best MBA in the Middle East in 2019 Supplied

Blended learning format

pc小群正规群The online transition was made easier by the blended learning format of the MBA programme, which means that much of the course content is already digitised to some extent. All the courses and workshops are led by faculty based in Manchester, and both faculty and students had to adjust to the temporary online platform for the virtual workshops. For some students, this meant adjusting for the time zone difference, although the virtual workshops were timed to accommodate all participating students and their time zones.

The Dubai centre’s virtual engagement programme has also included the online regional launch of two new part-time Master’s degrees - MSc Real Estate and MA Educational Leadership in Practice, both of which will start in September 2020, as planned. The engagement programme has included an extensive series of faculty masterclasses for students, alumni and open to the public, as well as careers and alumni events with guest speakers and Master’s degree information sessions to ensure continuity of community engagement. Since the suspension of all face-to-face interactions, the Centre team has organised dozens of events reaching thousands of people.

“Learning and networking are social activities and the Middle East Centre team has done a fantastic job of quickly virtualising all our planned outreach activities,” says Randa Bessiso, Director – Middle East, The University of Manchester. “Most importantly, this is about student experience. All our part-time Master’s programmes are faculty-led and delivered through blended learning, which includes significant face-to-face contact time. It was essential to ensure continuity of studies and provide rich interactive online learning and networking experiences. We have been delighted with the number of people joining all our online sessions and their positive feedback.

“We have been using all the experience we have gained over many years of delivering blended learning programmes, which include online self-study components, across the region. We have been delighted with the support and feedback from students and faculty, in making these sessions such a success. MBA applications tend to rise during difficult economic periods and we are seeing this currently with strong interest for the July intake, and for the new Master’s programmes starting in September.”

pc小群正规群The University of Manchester is ranked as the world’s 27th best university and is a member of the prestigious Russell Group, ranked among the world’s elite institutions for graduate employability and research across a diverse range of fields. Twenty five Nobel laureates have either worked or studied at the University. The Middle East Centre works in collaboration with industry groups, professional bodies and companies, and supports 2,700 regional alumni. Forbes recognised the Global MBA programme as the Best MBA in the Middle East in 2019.