The University of Manchester: Mastering the art of blended learning

Randa Bessiso, Director - Middle East, The University of Manchester
Randa Bessiso, Director - Middle East, The University of Manchester

The University has established a strong base in part-time master's programmes, writes Randa Bessiso, Director - Middle East, The University of Manchester



The University of Manchester is one of the world's leading universities, according to QS which ranks Manchester 27th best university in the world, and a member of the UK's Russell Group of elite research universities. The University also has a unique track record of innovation and 25 former faculty and students have been awarded a Nobel prize.

As a transnational education provider, the University has a mission with a focus on three main elements - teaching, research and social responsibility.
Since opening our centre in Dubai in 2006, we have really pioneered blended learning and provided access to high quality master's level qualifications and learning opportunities for working professionals across the region. We continue to attract students from the UAE (around 50 per cent of all our students reside in the UAE), the GCC, and from our other international centres for the regular face to face student workshops we host in Dubai. In addition, we have undertaken research work and an active CSR programme to ensure we play a full role in the local community.

Our teaching impact is clear - we have supported over 2,700 students and graduated more than 1,700, since 2006, and continue to introduce new part-time Master's programmes, all led by Manchester faculty. The Middle East Centre has been the largest and fastest growing centre in the University's international network almost from the beginning, reflecting the strong level of interest in our part-time master's programmes. We have also developed a regional alumni network, and collaborate with government, industry and professional bodies, as well as supporting local charities and making freely available to the public many of our faculty-led masterclasses.  
The University of Manchester subscribes to a wide range of international rankings produced by many different bodies, and local higher education ratings. Independent assessments of educational institutions are essential to help students and parents make informed decisions with confidence, especially as the UAE sector grows, matures and diversifies with new programmes and attracting students from around the region and wider world.

The University of Manchester was named as the world's 27th best university in the QS World University Rankings. The QS World University Rankings are 'the world's leading university rankings' rating the globe's top 1,000 institutions across 80 different countries. Manchester was also ranked sixth in the UK, and eighth in Europe.

We were also 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, and awarded University of the Year for Graduate Employment by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020. QS itself also ranks Manchester in the top 10 UK universities for overall graduate employability, alumni outcomes, employer reputations and partnerships with employers in its own employability rankings which lists more than 1,000 universities globally.

Other successes this year include Manchester being named the top institution in the country, second in Europe and eighth globally in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings. The Alliance Manchester Business School also saw improvement, moving up to fifth in the UK, 11th in Europe and 45th in the world in the latest Financial Times' world's best MBAs.

Institutional and programme recognitions are important and we were very pleased to be awarded the 'Best MBA programme' by Forbes Middle East in 2019.


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