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Delivering MBA courses – the case of Warwick Business School

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Flexible learning

One of the most appealing features of the MBA is its flexibility. The programme and the syllabus remain the same whether you take the full-time, executive or distance learning version. Students are not confined to one route, but are positively encouraged to mix and match, which "reflects the flexibility that our management audience have asked of us".

The teaching quality and reputation of the distance learning variant of the MBA is high (it has been ranked 3rd in the world by the influential Economist magazine): so much so that some of the content has been turned into textbooks, with the ones for operations strategy, strategic management and marketing becoming some of the leading textbooks in Europe.

Howard believes the success of the distance learning MBA (he prefers the term "blended") lies in the fact that the students have as much face-to-face attention as possible. (They normally spend about one month of every year on campus.)

"We're using technology to the best advantage, but we also put great emphasis on face-to-face. When the 'distance learners' come to the first dinner they've all been assigned a study group, they've all had e-mail addresses, and they know everything about each other: children, background, it's like an extended Facebook. They probably know each other better than the full-time MBA students do in the first week of the course.

"I happen to think that ours is by far the best because these distance learners do exactly the same programme as their full-time and modular colleagues and we put as much effort into the tutoring: we've mimicked the best of face-to-face learning. We have tutors who work with them outside the School who monitor the quality process, and we have 24-hour chat rooms if they have difficulties, for example, with an assignment."