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Continuity and quality of student experience is the focus of the University of Manchester’s Middle East Centre as the team continues to enroll, support and engage with current and new students, and alumni across the region. University life in the region continues while operating within the protocols in place to ensure our community stays safe and well.

This means that hybrid is a strong theme as the intensive programme of events, student workshops, and student inductions moves to a new hybrid format with the option to join online or in person at the physical venue. The centre has already gained a lot of experience over recent months, hosting around 200 events and reaching around 10,000 students, alumni and candidates.

The university’s portfolio of part-time blended learning master’s programmes for working professionals is ideally suited to flexible study. While the face-to-face teaching and networking component of its programmes is very valuable, most of the teaching, content and interaction that students need can be virtualised. The team at the Middle East Centre is highly skilled with technologies and the student experience remains rich and interactive, with the choice of online and face-to-face or hybrid access to content and events.

The latest student event was the induction session for the cohort of new students joining The Manchester Global Part-time MBA (GMBA) programme. Many of the group of 90 students came together physically at the workshop venue, while others preferred to join virtually. The January 2021 GMBA intake has been very strong with new students joining from countries across the region and many from the UAE, a large group from the ICT sector, and students of many nationalities. Female students comprise around 21 per cent of the new cohort, which is above average in the Middle East. Especially satisfying is the fact that so many of the new students have joined based on a personal recommendation from a current student or alumnus.

Regardless of the current situation, The University of Manchester Middle East Centre in Dubai continues to expand the regional portfolio of part-time master’s programmes. The latest addition is the part-time MSc in financial management, which will welcome the first cohort in September 2021. The university already offers two part-time MBA options, in addition to a specialist MSc degree in real estate, and MA in educational leadership in practice.

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All the university’s programmes are delivered through the blended learning format offering working professionals all the flexibility and convenience of online self-study complemented by valuable face-to-face learning through workshops or course conferences. These provide the opportunity for students to develop their professional networks with peers, discuss experiences with fellow students working across the world in diverse professional environments, and to meet the academic team. Working in groups, this is where students have the chance to apply theory to practice through real-life case studies based on contemporary business and industry problems.

For working professionals looking to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence to progress their careers, these faculty-led courses are designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills sought by organisations worldwide.

A blended learning specialist masters is more than just a faculty-led academic course, it should be a life-transforming experience and fellow students are a vitally important part of this experience. They also become part of a student’s professional network during the programme and after graduation, as fellow alumni.

The University of Manchester is ranked as the world’s 27th best university, 8th in Europe and 6th in the UK, according to the QS University World Rankings 2021, and among the world’s elite institutions for graduate employability and research. The university is committed to creating access to world-class blended learning opportunities designed to meet the needs of working professionals, focusing on the quality of teaching, research and social responsibility. The university was named the most targeted institution by the UK’s top 100 graduate employers for the third year in a row by The Graduate Market in 2020. Manchester was also named the University of the Year for Graduate Employment by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.

The Middle East Centre at Dubai Knowledge Park opened in 2006 and is the largest and fastest growing in the university’s international network comprising six hubs in the key business cities around the world. The team provides student support and career services, and has supported more than 2,800 Manchester Global Part-time MBA students in the region, and graduated more than 1,800 MBA students. The centre also works in regional collaborations with a range of industry groups, professional bodies and companies, and supports a regional alumni association with more than 2,800 members.