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For Tatjana Walker, deciding on where to pursue her postgraduate studies was easy. Choosing to upskill with the Distance Learning MBA by the University of Bradford’s School of Management was even easier. After all, both her Group Operations Director at Unite Students — where she works as an Area Manager — and one of her work associates recommended it to her. The triple-crown accreditation also “played a significant part” in her decision-making process.

Online MBA programmes match the rigours of their on-campus counterparts. Add their lower cost and shorter time spent on travelling, and an online degree is proving to be the smarter choice for professionals seeking to upskill for the new world.

Most online MBA programmes offer a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning; schedules tend to be highly adaptable to individual commitments. With Bradford’s new Virtual Learning Environment, Tatjana gets the flexibility to work through the modules at her own pace. Live online sessions with tutors help contextualise her learning. “All modules were delivered on time and with guidance throughout,” she shares. I have found all of the lecturers to be engaging, whilst also building connections with fellow students.”

Having supportive faculty members helps. “Support from the lecturers through to the administration team has been professional and consistent, despite the current challenges faced worldwide due to COVID-19,” says Tatjana. Distance learning can sometimes be isolating too. That’s not the case with Bradford’s programme, according to Mauritian couple Shabeel and Farzanah Maudarbaccus. “The online team has been very welcoming and the sharing of experiences with an international network of students has been very positive,” Shabeel says. “Even though we are studying from our home country, we still feel like we are part of a diverse, supportive and international community and that has been a very positive experience.”

Lecturers and staff are available via email and telephone. When Farzanah has questions or concerns, response is quick and helpful. There is 24/7 access to textbooks and academic journals from its library too.

Shabeel and Farzanah are both pursuing the Distance Learning MBA at the same time and without sacrificing their professional commitments — a feat made possible only through the programme’s flexibility. “With Shabeel and I both having busy, full-time jobs, this has been so important,” shares Farzanah. “It’s encouraging to study together and share our knowledge with each other.”

Class of 2019 graduate Muzibul Islam agrees. He did not need to leave his big family, a demanding job in Saudi Arabia and love for travel to reap all the perks of an MBA, such as the ability to network with people from all around the world. “The flexibility of the course allowed me to balance study with work and family life,” he says.

An MBA that works

Many students see the impact of their Bradford Distance Learning MBA almost immediately. Lead strategist Sophia Tamang, who is based in the United Arab Emirates, got to put her skills learned from the coursework to a marketing plan she was drafting for the Dubai Tourism Authority. It was a success. “I sent the assignment after it was graded to the Director General and was applauded for my strategic approach which aligned with Dubai Tourism’s marketing strategy during COVID-19,” she says. Other projects turned out just as rewarding.

Deep industry links explain this. The university is affiliated with major employers on its MBA Industry Advisory Board and International Advisory Board. These consist of prominent leaders from a broad range of public and private industry sectors, international markets and business disciplines. They ensure syllabi highlight contemporary issues.

This was one of the key reasons why Balazs Fule chose to pursue an MBA here. “I wished to study the most modern knowledge available on business administration with a focus on leadership and disruptive technologies — all of this was present in the curriculum provided by Bradford,” he says.

Balazs recalls one of his tutor’s sharp sense of humour and vast knowledge. “He showed me that no matter how highly educated you are, treating others equally and constantly helping through teaching create the most memorable moments. I learned more about leadership during his nine weeks of lectures than the ten years I spent at my previous jobs,” he says.

A Bradford MBA is also good value for money. Continuing to work while you’re in school is an undeniable financial upside. Current student Diego Zaccariotto was able to pay his tuition fee in multiple instalments instead of paying for everything upfront. “The university provides all the books that are required in digital format, with no need for additional costs,” he says. Every year, a number of travel bursaries worth up to 500 pounds are available for distance learning students. This is to help them attend a block elective module at the Bradford campus.

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