It's one of those very stormy English winter days here at Henley, with wind-driven rain, trees bending at their tops and the surface of the Thames whipped into (by staid British standards) a frenzied procession downstream toward London. And yet the daffodils are already flowering on the lawns and hinting at Spring, so it appears to me a bit of a mixed message.
The only item worth starting with this month is the piece of news you all will already know, namely the proposed merger with Reading Business School. Since first announced, and where concern has been raised by programme members, it appears the be centred on the retention of the word Henley with the MBA (it remains in place) and on the location of the MBA in the College (we stay in place). The things that make Henley special, and perhaps they are the ones that influenced you most, are exactly the elements of the deal that make sense for Reading. The size, resources and research reputation of Reading complement our strengths and provide a platform to compete with other top 10 world business schools.
There's more information about the merger now posted on your eLearning area, and there is also an email where you can address comments and questions - email@example.com. Don't be shy.
Another interesting development this month is the first ever ranking of Distance Learning MBA programmes, which has been created by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Henley is placed at number 6 in the world. This places us above everyone else in the UK except Warwick (who are now in my sights!).
The addition of this ranking is both long overdue and welcome. Despite the limitations one must always keep in mind with any ranking, it does gives us another metric to help define the Henley MBA and measure our progress and perceived brand value. One of those limitations is the difficulty in defining what is and what isn't a distance learning degree. Another is discerning the extent to which a programme is local or global. The Henley DL MBA is global, and one or two of the other schools listed cannot claim this. The Henley DL MBA is also a distinct and separate alternative to the part-time Executive MBA, which again cannot be said of some of the other programmes ranked by EIU.
Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that Henley is one of only two schools listed in the top ten of both Economist MBA rankings. Thank you to anyone who contributed their time in participating in the survey last year and we hope that many more of you will feel energised to do so in 2008.
Home Straight Community News
Those members in Intake HB28 who have reached the Dissertation due date in the schedule but have yet to submit their final masterpiece have now all been invited to join the Home Straight. This will attract the attentions of two experienced Henley tutors to monitor your progress and encourage you, as well as a community of around 300 others in the same position. There is a blog, to which you will need an invitation from me. The blog has been fairly quiet in the last month, so I'd like to remind anyone who has a useful insight or tip to share it with the others online.
Speaking of HB28, one of their number, Dahjit Ghoman, has approached me to advertise for volunteers to participate in research for his Dissertation. The topic is "Low cost sourcing."
One of the best ways to learn more about doing your own research on the MBA is to participate in someone else's. Here is another opportunity, brought to my notice by Roger Palmer on the Henley Faculty. He writes:
"We would like to ask you to support a research project by completing an online questionnaire. The research, which is being conducted by a Ph.D. student, deals with the question of how customers evaluate and use information sources. The hypotheses will be tested on the MBA market. This is a very interesting market with many customers (you), suppliers (business schools) and third-party information sources (such as rankings, accreditations, etc.).
Henley has agreed to support the project as it contributes to state-of-the-art research and also helps us to enhance our existing knowledge of the MBA market and hence the efficiency of our marketing efforts.
Please start the survey by clicking on the following link:
The site will be available until February 10, 2008.
Last but not least, you have the chance to win one of two 50 EUR or one of fifteen 25 EUR gift certificates from Amazon."
Results from the Board of Examiners in January
These should now be available to you online on the e:portal. I sincerely hope that you have good news and are feeling either very pleased with yourself if you have now finished, or spurred on if you are part-way through. It is sometimes frustrating to have what appears to be a considerable lag between the exam and the results, or confirmation of award. I can recall wondering what on earth Henley was up to when I was a DL programme member myself. However, having seen the process from the other side of the fence, I now see the many steps taken to ensure equity and accuracy in marking, assured by a very thorough system of external examiners. This month's Board of Examiners meeting ran for a gruelling three hours, and the level of detail and concern over individual cases was very noticeable. We know that the MBA process means a lot to you.
Apologies for the break in communication on the Henley website and e:assignment portal at the start of the month. It was very frustrating, but the fault was outside the College and actually affected many other institutions for a number of days as well. It was doubly frustrating that we couldn't let you know what the problem was!
New Associate in Malta
I'm pleased to announce that we have recently signed a contract with Allied Consultants in Malta, who will be continuing the long relationship with the Henley MBA that has been the work of Reno Sammut for many years. Having just returned from a visit there, I can tell you that the statistic that one in every thousand worker in Malta has a Henley MBA is true - we met them everywhere!
Next month we will be running Stage One starter workshops here at Henley for the next Henley-based intake, HB38, and also for groups from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and (I'm told) Greenland.
Finally, many thanks to all those who were kind enough to write with congratulations on my new position. I can testify both that the role is a fantastic challenge and also that the honeymoon period is definitely over!