Demand for MBA in Dubai: Dubai Eye’s interview with Randa Bessiso

Demand for MBA in Dubai: Dubai Eye’s interview with Randa Bessiso

Dubai’s leading English language radio station – Dubai Eye – has spoken to Randa Bessiso, Director – Middle East, The University of Manchester, about the recent increase in MBA in Dubai applications and enrolments in the region, announced by the Middle East Centre. The same spike in interest and demand for the part-time MBA was seen across the University’s international network of centres.

The station’s flagship Business Breakfast show interviewed Randa as part of the topical ‘back to school’ theme although, for the University, it was more a case of ‘back to business school’, as more working professionals chose to return to the ‘classroom’ in the latest July intake for the Global Part-time MBA. The Middle East Centre reported a rise in applications of almost 30% with enrolment increasing by 5%.”

As Randa commented, now is the right time to do an MBA and applications to top MBA programmes typically rise during tough economic periods.

“At the Middle East Centre, and across the University’s international network, we saw this after the global financial crisis and we are seeing this again during the pandemic, when careers are on hold or even under threat, and working professionals plan for careers during the recovery and new normal. 

“Even through the pandemic, the University has used all its experience and expertise to ensure continuity of study – in the Middle East, we have virtualised part-time MBA programme content and engagement, broadening our reach with public access to faculty-led webinars and deepening our engagement with our community, students, alumni and partners. We have delivered over 45 online events reaching almost 9,000 people. It’s part of the University’s response to COVID-19, which includes a campus response group focusing on research into the coronavirus and its impacts.”   

Randa highlighted the fact that the MBA is a career differentiator and gives business people the skills and network to survive and thrive in the era of the pandemic.

“The part-time MBA helps working students sustain their career momentum and employability, while they continue to work. Part-time MBA students are looking for new knowledge, skills - including soft skills - and a professional network to sustain their employability and exploit new opportunities. The July cohort includes students working in industries such as energy, healthcare, finance and ICT. Business leaders need a distinctive set of skills with a global outlook and we have identified 5 key skills for the MBA student to develop – communications, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and confidence.”

“The pandemic is motivating more MBA applications from candidates looking for career acceleration, a switch to a new industry (or country), or an entrepreneurial career. Our part-time MBA students are at the age and stage of career when they want to build skills for higher management and leadership positions, or develop new career options or pursue their own business opportunities. 

“Confidence is key. The pandemic is an inflection point for the global economy and business people need the confidence from an MBA to navigate a more complex business world. A faculty-led MBA programme helps students better understand and navigate the business world, when careers are on hold and employment turbulent, to sustain professional and personal development and career momentum, with greater confidence.”

The University of Manchester Middle East Centre in Dubai enrolled a total of 80 new students from across the region on to the Manchester Global Part-time MBA and Kelley-Manchester Global Dual MBA, following a strong rise in applications for the July intake. Applications to the blended learning programmes rose by 29% compared to July 2019, while the number of enrolled students increased from 76 (July 2019) to 80 (July 2020). The Middle East Centre also enrolled the highest number of accelerated MBA programme students across all international centres – a study route allowing senior managers to complete the programme in 18 months. 

The July 2020 MBA cohort comprises working professionals of 25 nationalities and the majority are resident in the UAE, with a significant group resident in Saudi Arabia, working in a range of industries, notably Finance, Energy, Technology and Healthcare. The majority of the new students are self-funded and 20% of the cohort are female professionals. The new cohort was welcomed by the team from the University’s Alliance Manchester Business School and Middle East Centre in Dubai, during a virtual induction hosted from Dubai, recently.

The two-year, faculty-led Manchester Global MBA programme was recognised as the ‘Best MBA Programme’ at the Forbes Middle East Higher Education Awards 2019.