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Q&A with Adam Bolton, Association of MBAs (AMBA)

Adam Bolton talks to us about what international students can expect at an AMBA accredited business school


Tell us about AMBA and what it offers international students.

The Association of MBAs (AMBA) was first established as the Business Graduate Association in London in 1967. It was founded by eight MBA graduates, six of whom had returned from Ivy League business schools in the United States and another two who had completed courses from the London Business School.


The landscape of postgraduate business education in Europe in the 1960s was significantly different to what it is today. To put it simply, there virtually was none. The group’s intention was to set up a body that would raise the profile of business education and the MBA as a qualification in the UK and Europe. Over the past 49 years this body grew to become AMBA.


We now accredit a range of management courses including the MBA, Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and the Masters in Business Management (MBM) have expanded our mission far beyond Europe, accrediting programmes in over 70 countries and on six continents. AMBA accreditation is an indicator of a premium quality business course that will equip graduates with the sufficient skills needed by today’s global market, no matter what continent they are on, and regardless whether the business school is long established or a brand new institution.


What can an international student expect on an AMBA-accredited course?

No matter what degree an international student takes at a UK institution, an AMBA accreditation ensures quality and value for money. Our accreditation ensures that in classroom based courses there will be a high ratio of contact time between academics and students; for instance, a full time MBA programme requires a minimum of 500 hours of direct communication between students and tutors, either face to face or by video messaging. AMBA accredited online courses require mandatory periods of direct engagement with lecturers also.


Specifically in regard to MBA courses, international students can expect a transformative experience in which the breadth of their knowledge will be expanded significantly. All AMBA accredited MBA programmes require that students to have at least three years of workplace experience. This insures that group based work is enhanced by graduates who can produce informed arguments based upon their own practical insight.


International students can also expect our UK accredited courses will have classes including students from a variety of backgrounds. For example, AMBA research shows that in 2015, international students comprised 85% of full-time AMBA accredited MBA enrolments in the UK. This creates a melting pot of viewpoints that reflect the globalised economy in which we all live.


Finally students on AMBA accredited courses are also eligible for free AMBA membership, this provides a wealth of support while studying as well as after graduating. This includes access to our online networking community, jobs board, regular social networking events across the world and cutting-edge research and thought leadership from business leaders such as Group CEO of WPP, Sir Martin Sorrell and CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman.


How does an AMBA degree prepare a student for the world of work? 

Each AMBA accredited programme will vary and the MBA, DBA and MBM each offer different things. With regard to MBAs that make up the bulk of our portfolio of management programmes, graduates will leave with a toolkit of skills that will put them on the pathway to becoming a future leader, ready to thrive in a global market. MBA graduates will have a firm grasp of a range of topics including organisational theory, leadership, consultation skills and risk analysis. Entrepreneurship is also a key element of a modern MBA, helping graduates see opportunity where others may not and how best to nurture that crucial idea once they find it.


Alumni from AMBA accredited programmes have gone onto a variety of different industries both public and private; both businesses and non-profit organisations. There are a number of notable alumni from AMBA accredited programmes in the UK, including the CEO of Coca Cola, Muhtar Kent (Cass Business School), former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Dr Sahas Bunditkul (Leeds University Business School) and former CEO of Citroen, Linda Jackson (Warwick Business School).


How many accredited schools do you have and what are the growth plans for AMBA?

AMBA currently accredits 44 business schools in the UK and a total of 238 worldwide. In terms of future plans for growth, we are expanding our presence in South East Asia and North America. The United States has been an area in which we have been looking to expand, but our MBA accreditation requirements of three years’ work experience goes against the admissions requirements of most American business schools. Despite this we believe that in a competitive business education market some business schools will see the benefits of adapting to our MBA criteria and will seek AMBA accreditation in the near future.


What’s your message to an international student considering studying at an AMBA school?

First, ask yourself what are your long term career goals? Once you define those you can really research what business school and which programme will aid you to get to where you want to be.


There are a variety of different courses and methods of learning on offer that must be taken into consideration. For instance, do you want get a specialist MBA based on the industry in which you work, or would you rather study a generalist MBA programme? Does a particular business school have a reputation as having strong links to a particular industry on which you would like to capitalise? Would you be willing to study online in your homeland or would you prefer move internationally to study full-time? How will you finance your MBA? These are the sorts of questions you need to ask. Prospective students should also look carefully into visa requirements of studying in the UK.


Finally, I would recommend that international students considering taking an MBA join our AMBA Online Community as a pre-MBA member where you will be able to take part in forums and chat with a host of current students, alumni and business school staff. AMBA also offers information on our website you view the details of specific schools and the dates of our MBA Fairs, at which you can speak to business school staff and alumni in a relaxed and informal setting.

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About Author

Katie Duncan is Editor of Hotcourses Abroad and is an NCTJ-qualified journalist and University of Exeter graduate. Having worked at an English language school in the UK, as an educational consultant in Spain and as a reporter in the international education sector, she is well placed to guide you through your study abroad journey. Katie grew up in Australia, which perhaps explains her unusual reptile collection, comprising of a bearded dragon (Bill) and tortoise (Matilda).

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