Published: 03rd July 2019
Why Queen's Management School is the place where academic excellence meets corporate connect
To pursue an MBA with Queen's, you need a good undergraduate degree and five years of experience in the industry, ideally in junior or middle managerial level
Did you know that it was the Indian market whose demand for a Summer School drove Queen's Management School to start one? Queen's University Belfast continues to focus on Indian students and are certainly listening to what all students are saying. To the extent that they have staff members who are available 24x7 to help out any student who needs help. "This is important because they are still young, a long way from home and we take that very seriously to make sure that they are well-supported," says Nola Hewitt-Dundas, Head of School, Queen's Management School, Queen's University Belfast. In a sit down with her, Hewitt-Dundas tells us exactly why students are central to every decision they make like withdrawing their International MBA programme in order to structure it better, including need-of-the-hour courses and a lot more. Excerpts from an interview:
Please give us an overview of the management school.
The Management School emphasises on the importance of research and corporate relations, straddling the two and doing well on both fronts. This is important for the quality of research and for student experiences and we know that is very important for Indian students in particular.
We have 2,300 students in the school and about 700 of those are international students. Growth in the international student numbers has largely come in the last three to four years as we have begun to open up our markets and state that this is what we are offering, this is what we do in terms of programmes, placements and corporates and it has taken us by surprise how attractive it is to international students and how good a product we have in terms of our programmes. We have worked hard and produced really good quality students with good corporate links. As many as 60 nationalities are represented in the school. It is important for us that not all students come in from a certain country, there needs to be a blend. Even when we pick students for group work, we make sure we put together students from different nationalities.
In terms of our programmes, we have approximately ten programmes at the undergraduate level and across four main subject areas — Finance, Accounting, Business Management and Economics. We also have a programme with Computer Science which is Business Information Technology degree programme, International Business with a language and we are also looking to introduce a new programme in International Business and Cross-Cultural Management, in particular for international students who want to understand how business and practice differs from one approach to another.
The postgraduate level has been our growth area for the past few years. We have about 11 master's programme. They have all been developed with industry and we keep them involved. We have employer forums who constantly come in not only to look at what we are doing, but also to inform us that, 'The skills that we need are changing in this way, therefore, your curriculum needs to adjust,' but also in offering internships, delivering guest lectures and so on. And most programmes are linked with an accrediting body like MSc in Accounting and Finance would have the exemptions that would go along with the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants. We want to ensure that when we attract students, we give them the best possible opportunity and when they leave us, their chances in the employability market are maximised.
The Northern Ireland culture of family values and care is very similar to India. Indian students will feel right at home yet experience a different culture
Any new programmes you have introduced this year?
This year MSc in Business Analytics is a new programme. IBM estimates that 90% of the world's data that we have has been produced in the last two years so the opportunities that this has created is unthinkable. We don't just introduce a new programme, we think about what it means for all our existing programmes. So now, we are embedding more analytical approaches in our programmes like management, IB, Finance and so on, so it filters down to everything.
What a view: At the management school | (Pic: Queen's University Belfast)
Why did you withdraw your International MBA programme?
We were also running an International MBA programme which was attracting a lot of Indian students, but somehow it wasn't working for us in the right way. There were people coming in with no experience in the industry so we thought we need to look into that programme and think about how we need to improve it. So we decided to stop that programme for a year, which is brave especially because it was doing well, and restructured the whole course. It was relaunched last year. Among many other things, like the curriculum has changed and now is more thematic, we have included a trip to Silicon Valley in San Francisco and there is coaching which is embedded in the course too.
They also have William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen's which offers leadership development and executive education programmes. Former US president Clinton gave his name to the school
What about the corporate engagements that you have facilitated for students?
Two-thirds of our undergraduates will do a nine-month internship with a company and most of those students will go on to work for that company. The corporates keep coming back to us year after year. For our international students, in particular, we have international student support and advisors who work with them on writing their CVs, interview skills and pitching to companies and making sure they are work-ready. There are members of staff who are dedicated to that function.
Perfect view: At the management school | (Pic: Queen's University Belfast)
We have also heard a lot about your Summer School
Yes! The Indian market was telling us that they would like a Summer School and we started it. It is a week-long programme targeted towards high school students. It is about exciting students about the real world, showing them the possibilities of what they could create and the challenges around that, whether it is funding or understanding of the ecosystem. We use a simulation tool to take them through the experience of how it is to start a business. This gives them a wake-up call as they begin to understand how much raw materials cost, if they are perishable, staffing, salaries among many other things. We introduce them to entrepreneurs and even social enterprises to try and get them to think about social and environmental challenges and so on. So it is all about exciting and engaging them! We mix it up with cultural programmes and an insight into what it would be like to study business. We wanted to keep the price of this low to ensure that it really inspires him.
They have about 20 Indian students who have chosen programmes across the board in the management school
Hat trick in the making
In a very exciting development, they are going in for a Triple Crown accreditation, which is held by less than one per cent of business schools in the world. This involves accreditations from prestigious bodies like:
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Association of MBAs (AMBA)
- EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)
For more on them, check out qub.ac.uk