If you were to ask what a Greek banker, several police officers and an Aberdeen optician have in common you might get a few amusing quips but you’d be hard-pressed to come up with the definitive answer.
However, thanks to some visionary academic thinking, the link is an innovative business management course at RGU’s Aberdeen Business School and they’re all among an eclectic mix of students, including oil company and retail staff, who have embarked on a new path to academic achievement.
With the School’s flexible approach, part-time study and blended method of learning, embracing face-to-face and on-line distance activities; students with no previous academic history but plenty of hands-on experience can now work their way to a BA degree, some in just a year.
Sounds impressive and it’s undoubtedly hard work but it is revolutionising life for hundreds of people who would otherwise never have envisaged graduating with that prized qualification. Previously part-time study involved evening classes – a punishing schedule over several years, particularly after a hard day at work – but the part-time course is flexible, accessible and a departure from the traditional, providing opportunities for all ages and walks of life to widen their horizons while doing their day job anywhere in the world, including offshore.
Under the guidance of Programme Leader Susan Lawrie, students start at various entry points: some with monthly Saturday workshops in key business subjects, leading to a management diploma, whereas those with prior business management experience can tackle the BA degree course in a year online, so it can be studied anywhere worldwide.
For some it’s an opportunity to become a better manager, for others it’s a route to return to work, to overcome the current energy sector downturn or, in Jackie Allen’s case, change direction entirely. She ran her own award-winning retail business, The B’s Knees, for 25 years before switching careers in her 50s to become a self-employed business consultant.
After graduating with the BA degree last year she says it has given her added confidence and professional credibility. ‘I’ve reinvented my career and got a thirst for knowledge. It was challenging, difficult sometimes, and you need focus and sheer determination, but if I can do it anybody can.’