Heinze, A and Wells, S 2009, Open enrolment programmes at Salford Business School: challenges and opportunities , in: Fifth Education in a Changing Environment Conference Critical Voices, Critical Times, September 2009, University of Salford, Salford, Greater Manchester.
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The vision of the recently established Salford Business School (SBS) includes the improvement of open enrolment programmes to provide executive education. Open enrolment programmes differ from traditional credit bearing programmes in that they do not normally lead to an award and their participants do not need to have prior qualifications. The programmes are taken up by learners primarily to advance their knowledge and skills in order to proceed their careers (Schaap, 2008). In a Business Schools‟ context these programmes are offered in management and leadership related subjects (Maes, 2003). It is a challenging move for SBS due to the existing competition between such programmes across the UK, but there are a number of drivers that highlight the need for developing such programmes including the business school rankings (Peters, 2007) and the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF) that will measure the economic impact of research as part of future research funding allocations. The current paper is part of an ongoing action research project by the open enrolment programmes development team within the SBS. The objective of this research is to improve the provision of open enrolment programmes across the SBS. This paper discusses lessons learned from the first action research cycle of a two-day pilot course in Search Engine Marketing Management. The research is based on the reflections of the course delivery team and feedback on the processes undertaken and on feedback from course participants. The findings of this study suggest that the development and delivery of research inspired open enrolment programmes can and should lead the way in the development and provision of executive education. Positive impacts of this include the improvement in Business School rankings, favourable REF assessment, generation of additional income for the course facilitators and the School and the enhancement of the reputation of the School as a benefit to other undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Despite positioning itself as an enterprising university, this study illustrates a number of university wide issues, which actually reduce the competitiveness of the institution in the executive education market. Recommendations for improvement include the development of physical space for the delivery of open programmes; streamlined course development and delivery processes; high level support for academics interested in developing and delivery of short courses and the development of effective marketing channels.
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