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The University of Manchester is ranked as the world’s 28th best university in the QS World University Rankings 2023, and is ranked among the world’s leading universities for the quality and scale of impact against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - the world’s call to action on the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing humanity and the natural world.

Since launching in 2006, The University of Manchester Middle East Centre in Dubai has supported and graduated thousands of part-time master’s students (all working professionals) from across the Middle East. The Centre has developed into the largest and fastest-growing in the University’s international network comprising five hubs in key business cities around the world – Manchester, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, and Dubai. It is also the most diverse, with students of over 100 nationalities.

The Middle East Centre represents the University’s entire range of activities in the region and manages a dynamic portfolio of part-time, flexible learning master’s programmes for working professionals. This currently comprises three MBA options (Global Part-time MBA, Kelley-Manchester Global MBA, Global Executive MBA) MA Educational Leadership in Practice, and the MSc Financial Management.

Critically, these faculty-led, part-time programmes provide the opportunity to tailor content and learning to meet individual student objectives, and offer as much face to face time as many full-time master’s programmes, along with the networking opportunities that students and alumni value so highly. Students can also opt for accelerated learning pathways and choose to attend faculty-led workshops or course conferences in other regional centres, with exposure to other business cultures and the opportunity to extend professional contacts and networks.

The Centre has supported more than 3,000 part-time MBA students based in the region and has graduated over 2,000 MBA students since opening in 2006, and supports a regional community of around 5,000 alumni – all current and former students. The Centre enrols around 200 new students each year across all its programmes - of which around 15 per cent are professional female executives and half reside in the UAE.

The Centre also focuses on collaborations in the region including with UAE government and non-government organisations, UK higher education and other organisations, working on projects ranging from the Manchester Innovation Award for Emiratis to research into the opportunities for regional executive education, research into perceptions of creativity and innovation in Dubai Government, and a Covid-19 Recovery Report on the UAE produced in collaboration with Oxford Business Group.

The Centre has also established a network of collaborations across the region through Strategic Talent Partnerships with local and international companies. These connections with industry help enrich the learning experience of students and also create potential career opportunities for students and alumni, while benefitting partners through access to a regional pool of executive talent.

The partnership network includes Dubai Islamic, SAJA Pharmaceuticals, GM (General Motors) as well as accountancy and professional bodies such as Chartered Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Professional Development, and high-profile local organisations such as Dubai Business Business Council, and Dubai Police.

The University’s students and alumni in the Middle East also benefit from a range of career services provided by the Centre in Dubai – these can be tailored to meet personal career objectives and range from 1-2-1 sessions with careers advisors to more general support through help with cv writing, interview preparation and presentations, and personal-branding and the use of professional social media platforms.

Today, the Middle East Centre is an acknowledged UK higher education success story in the region and actively engages its part-time master’s students and alumni, through an intense outreach and social programme. The regional team has responded recently to ensure the continuity of study and learning experience, growing online engagement with the regional community of students and alumni, rapidly transitioning students to ‘hybrid workshops’ – a Middle East innovation – and even growing the programme portfolio while still continuing to support social causes.

The Centre actively supports the University’s three pillars of learning, research and social responsibility and for the Middle East Centre’s recent 15th anniversary, the team developed a range of 15 social responsibility activities, including the Dubai Cares’ ‘Adopt a School’ initiative to build a three-classroom school for 90 children, in Nepal.

Randa Bessiso, Founding Director Middle East at The University of Manchester: “In our experience over the last 16 years, demand for part-time master’s programmes has remained consistently strong in the Middle East, attracting very experienced students. They often have 10 or more years’ experience, perhaps already in senior positions and frequently already hold a master’s level qualification. Students are typically in management or executive roles, or functional heads or specialists from a broad range of industry, services and government sectors.

Motivations vary from career acceleration in the current industry to career switching (changing industry or moving from a specialist to a broader management role), or a move into a more entrepreneurial career pathway. Currently, many executives are looking to position themselves for the career opportunities of the global economic recovery and a part-time flexible learning master’s helps build knowledge, skills and broadens their professional network to help create a more rewarding, fulfilling and sustainable career.”