UEA business school aims high

The University of East Anglia's business school has set its sights on becoming one of the top ten centres in the country.

A UNIVERSITY'S business school has set its sights on becoming one of the top ten centres in the country.

The University of East Anglia's School of Management chose its 10th anniversary to re-brand itself as the Norwich Business School, and has set out ambitious plans for its future.

It is aiming to increase its postgraduate student population, which now stands at around 200, at a rate of about 20% a year over the next five years.

There are also proposals on the drawing board for a new multi-million pound business school building which it is hoped will be built in the future.

Ten years ago, the school had just 30 postgraduate students and eight staff. The full-time faculty has now grown to 25, and there are 200 postgraduate and 600 undergraduate students being taught there. Of those 800, 260 are international students, bringing greater diversity as well as finance to the school.

School head Professor Nikolaos Tzokas said they were building on their relationship with businesses in the area, and had introduced another three new postgraduate courses to their list, including international human resource management and strategic supply chain management.

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“We are in the top 30 schools nationally. The goal is to move to the top 10 but because we are a relatively new school, the progression of the school is in line with the progression of schools in other places,” he said.

“Since 1995-96 the school has sharpened its research focus, strengthened its teaching quality and achieved substantial growth in its undergraduate and postgraduate taught and research programmes.”

There are more than 100 business schools nationally, placing Norwich Business School in the top 30% or so. The university itself is one of the top 20 in the country.

Top postgraduate students get to work for four months with businesses as part of a supervised research programme.

“We have linked up with companies in the region and they have given us specific research briefs,” explained Professor Tzokas.

“What makes a real difference is the relationship with industry, because we really don't believe our teaching stops with teaching on campus.”

They went into companies, and provided “real value” to them with their research, with a student working full-time over four months on a research brief for the company, which pays £750 to cover some of the costs of the service.

For that, the firm gets something of far greater value than the nominal fee they pay, while the student gets the benefit of an additional training tool, said the professor.

“The value they get I would say is 100 times more than the £750,” he said.

Last year, 20 companies took part, and this year, already more than 20 have signed up.

“It's very important for East Anglia. Up to now, business has got to move to London or other places in order to receive advice or guidance in the challenges they are facing,” he said.

“By having this expertise and knowledge in the region, we can then provide it to local businesses and, in a sense, saving them a lot of money and hassle.”

IT provision has been boosted at the school, giving it “the best IT technology available”, he said.

The school is also collaborating with companies including Archant, Moneyfacts, Adnams, Norwich International Airport, Bernard Matthews and Norwich Union.

“The school is opening itself more and more to the local business community,” he said.

The ethos of the school is based firmly on research-led teaching, collaboration with industry and genuine care of students, he said.

“It's always a struggle, but it's an enjoyable struggle, and that's why we're here,” he said. “We are here to develop useful knowledge, and knowledge that can be used by business.”