Shaswati Panda is pursuing her MBA at Lancaster University Management School, an institution located in a city of about 45,000 people in the north of England.
But a few times per year, Panda visits London, partly to take business classes and partly for an anthropological study of how business is conducted in one of the financial capitals of the world.
"You see how people behave in their workplaces in London," says Panda, who worked in the IT sector in India and hopes to embark on a career in sustainability consulting after her MBA. "You see people have lunch in cafes, how they behave, how they dress up, how business expects you to be, and what kind of impression people expect from you. It's a behavioral training also, apart from just understanding the business capital of the world."
Panda's ability to visit London several times per year for classes is part of Lancaster's new policy of delivering some modules of its full-time MBA in the capital. Lancaster is one of two United Kingdom business schools--the other is Warwick University--that implemented London connections in the past two years, a move intended to give students from the more distant parts of the UK and elsewhere the same networking connections, on-the-ground practical experience, and intangible benefits enjoyed by students at London Business School, Cass Business School and other institutions whose main campuses are located in London. You can see a list of all MBA programs in London here.
Warwick and Lancaster aren't the first schools to set up London connections. The trend of taking advantage of London's myriad opportunities stretches back at least a decade. In 2005, the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business opened a London campus, while Hult International Business School opened a London campus in 2009.
Although Warwick and Lancaster are now both linked to London, the schools offer programs with different structures. Warwick's program is a full-time MBA delivered entirely in the famous skyscraper Shard in London.
"It's the same program that we offer in London as we're offering up in Warwick," says Crawford Spence, associate dean for external programs at Warwick. "But the cohort is predominantly London-based. They're working for international organizations. There's a more cosmopolitan mix to the student base."
Lancaster, on the other hand, delivers part of its full-time MBA curriculum in London, with students spending about 10 weeks in the capital, taking classes on topics such as finance and macroeconomics, as well as attending lectures by London speakers. Students also spend six to eight weeks over the summer working on projects in the city.
Peter Lenney, MBA director at Lancaster, says the contrast between a small-city environment and a bustling financial capital has proved invaluable to students.
"By being located in Lancaster and London, our students get a stimulating contrast of learning locations and context and learn to maintain a reflective mindset in the chaos of the capital," Lenney says.
Although Lancaster's and Warwick's programs are structured differently, officials from both schools cite similar reasons for rolling out programs in the capital, namely that studying in a bastion of finance and industry is invaluable for students who want to network.
"Students participate in networking and career capture activity with potential employers," says Lenney. "The students investigate and identify the employers and types of employers they wish to engage with and the team facilitates contact with them, often utilizing alumni."
Spence says that Warwick runs a series called Finance Fridays in London, which brings in a guest speaker every week to discuss the financial issues of the day.
"We're been very successful in getting people to come together in that respect. We wouldn't be able to have the same thing up in Warwick, with the same quality of people," Spence says.
Benoit Perrot, a French engineer who wants to transition into a leadership role and is pursuing his MBA at Lancaster, says his London modules have provided him with great networking opportunities.
"It's a big place for finance and accounting, and it's a good opportunity to go there, meet some great guest speakers, go to networking fairs, to organize an interview with a company," Perrot says.
"It opens your mind a bit, and confronts you with this turbulent city and market."
Perrot says that the London connection is especially advantageous for students who want to work in finance, but even for engineering students such as himself, the program provides an overview of different London options. For example, he was recently given the opportunity to tour British Petroleum's London office, an invaluable opportunity for an engineer.
The advantages of London-based learning have translated to a higher number of students enrolling in these programs than officials had predicted. Spence says Warwick typically enrolls about 25 students per cohort on its home campus, but that this year's first cohort in London enrolled 43 students.
"It exceeded our expectations," Spence says. "We were only planning to do one cohort per year in London, starting in September, but we just opened another one in March as well because there's so much demand for it."
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