Feb 29th – an opportunity to reflect on 4 years’ worth of learning?

2020 is a leap year and Saturday, 29th of February marks the leap day: an extra day in our lives that we encounter every four years. Walking through February 29 is almost like walking through a rare portal that is only accessible to us every four years. Well, when I dug a little deeper into the history of how we actually came to have 29 days in the second month of the year, I found some very interesting facts about this day.

The history of Feb 29th (and/or of Feb 28th for that matter)

A leap year was needed to correct calendar drift because the Earth orbits the Sun every 365.242 days, a number that is fairly difficult to accommodate on a calendar. And it was a lot of trial and error before the world could settle for the modern-day leap year system. Many ancient cultures had taken on to the practice of adding extra days, or even months, to round out the calendar year.  

The National Geographic News explains the Roman civilization would add months to try to correct the drift of the lunar calendar. But this system was sloppy. In the modern sophisticated society, all kinds of things such as paying rent or interest accruing on loans would all mess up.  

Egyptians were the first to determine the true length of the solar year and brought the reformation. Egypt adopted a leap-year system, with an extra day every four years, during the Greek rule of the Ptolemaic Dynasty (305 to 30 BC).  

In 46 BC, the Julian calendar came to be used as a reformed calendar after what came to be known as the Year of Confusion. But there was an inherent flaw that caused the drifted Julian calendar to drift 10 days by the late 16th century.  In 1582 the Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, and it slowly but surely became the main calendar system for most of the world. 

Now you might be wondering why I am talking about the history of leap years? Well, apart from its historic relevance, I consider the leap days significant as the day of reflection and reminiscence.

A day for reflection

A wise person would say, don’t live in the past nor the future, stay in your present. However, it is important to foresee the future to identify the goals you want to achieve and reflect on the past to see how far you have come along your planned path, appreciate your achievements, recognize the pitfalls and improve upon them.  

Reflection is a key part of learning – it is not dwelling or beating yourself up for past events, but rather recognizing the pros and cons of past experience. Standing on the leap day today, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the achievements and memorable moments for Robert Kennedy College and its exclusive partners, during the last 4 years of imparting Swiss quality education online.

Scroll through the slides to see some of my favourite highlights of RKC history..

  • Celebrating 50 years of University of Salford

To top it all here’s a short University of Cumbria 2019 graduation video. I hope this inspires you to take the walk as a proud master’s graduate yourself one day (hopefully before the next leap year in 2024!)

So I would encourage you all to take the opportunity that this great day, that comes once in 4 years, has to offer. Reflect, plan, set your intentions and take the plunge! For any guidance that you might seek on our Master’s programme, just reach out to our dedicated education advisors

Happy Leap Day! 

Residency week at RKC: Listen to what our students have to say about it. Make an informed decision!

From the very start of my time with RKC, one of the questions I get asked the most is: What differentiates RKC’s online programmes from those offered by other universities?

I used to answer that RKC has been around in online education for more than 20 years, has developed the experience and technology to deliver a top-quality online education experience and has exclusive partnerships with three very recognisable and government accredited British universities, all of which are very valid and important points. 

However, in my opinion and, more importantly, in the opinion of a vast majority of our students, the biggest differentiator is the one-week residency programme we conduct either at the college campus in Zürich, Switzerland or at the university campus in the United Kingdom. 

This is a mandatory part of most of the programmes we offer (we have just launched a range of fully online ones too though) and you will have to attended one such week if you intend to graduate with the master’s degree. Now, I know that traveling for the residency is not easy: you will have to take time off, there is the added cost of stay, flight tickets, visa, local travel and food, etc. But the response to this part of the programme has been overwhelmingly positive from our students. 

Most of our students haven’t been in a classroom environment in a very long time and this one week is exciting. You get to go back in time and relive your school/ college experience, but in a whole new light, with the added benefit of experience and the confidence of an accomplished professional life.

You enjoy interacting face to face with the professors and fellow students, clarifying doubts and having fun doing it. Most times the focus of the residency is on preparing you to start your dissertation – research methods, discussion of actual ideas with colleagues and professors. You also get to network with your fellow students, not only forming lifelong friendships beyond this one week but also potential future business partnerships. 

Here is a short video of our students talking about their residency experience, you can judge for yourself the value and takeaways our students derive from the residency programme.     

So, which programme is right for you? Not a question I am able to answer via a blog post, I’m afraid, but if you want to find out, you can get in touch with our team of admission advisers who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice.  

Explore the number of specialised master’s degree programmes offered by Robert Kennedy College through exclusive partnerships with top British universities. Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply.

A 100% online MBA or MSc? Yes, you (now) can!

It’s official. We are excited to announce the launch of five new 100% online master’s degree programmes to add to our growing list of programmes. We know our online masters (MBA, MSc and LL.M) programmes, with a one-week mandatory residency, have been immensely popular among working professionals who looked for a perfect (or even just manageable) work-study balance.  

However, we could not underestimate the growing demand for 100% online programmes. We developed our 100% online programmes through an exclusive partnership with University of Cumbria, offering the same British tradition and Swiss quality education – fully online.  

The specializations these new 100% online programmes offer are among the most sought after and highly rated online programmes. These include artificial intelligence, digital marketing, data analytics, computer science and international business and information technology. The world is going digital and we need future leaders well equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills. 

Ready to dig in? Here they are!

 All of the five new programmes share the following characteristics: 

Duration : Minimum 12 months, maximum 5 years. 

Delivery Method : 100% online via OnlineCampus (an interactive online learning environment) with intensive class discussion and collaboration. 

Entry points: Four times a year (winter, spring, summer and autumn). 

Tuition Fees: 12,000 CHF (Swiss Francs). This fee includes library access, OnlineCampus access, graduation fees, and University matriculation fees. Fees are payable in interest-free instalments, however, the programmes are not eligible for UK Postgraduate Loans for Master’s Study. Sorry! We do try to compensate to some extent for this by offering occasional time-bound bursaries, so keep an eye on our newsletter. Not yet signed up? Request a catalogue here

Programme details 

100% Online MBA Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

There is no industry in the business world today that does not uses AI. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have become mainstream tools in driving business. AI applications help companies reduce their costs, enhance customer experience, increase profits – in short, spending less to do more. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have already started revolutionising the business world, as many businesses are already using such technologies to achieve a competitive advantage. The MBA Artificial Intelligence is devised to equip you with the skills and knowledge required to manage the intricacies that stem from an artificial intelligence driven world.  

100% Online MBA Digital Marketing  

Digital media has taken the advertising to a whole new level and has made it a profession highly sought after. This has contributed to changing the landscape of jobs and how marketing is done today, encouraging businesses and business schools alike to evolve the way that marketing is viewed as an independent function. This online programme equips you with the skills needed to engage with customers via digital media and effectively market businesses across digital networks. 

100% Online MBA Information Technology 

I personally consider this programme a marriage between the business and technology worlds. IT managers are now required to have a thorough understanding of business, and not just technology, so gone are the days when one could afford to specialize either one or the other. The MBA Information Technology answers the growing demand of intertwining technology with business by blending the established business knowledge of an MBA with specialised courses on Information Management and the Internet of Things. 

100% Online MSc Data Analytics 

Computers and the advent of the Internet have brought upon the world the age of information and big data, and organizations want to retain as much information as possible about their business as they appreciate the role of data in gaining insights and out-thinking competitors. Whether your pursuit is technical or business-focused, the MSc Data Analytics nurtures your analytical skills.  

100% Online MSc Computer Science and International Business 

Modern businesses are dominated by technology with new computing systems and the internet dominantly driving the change. Global markets are now open to even smallest of the businesses. The MSc Computer Science and International Business seek to provide students with the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how business merges with technology, offering a blend of computer science subjects and core business topics. 

Fully Online vs 1-week residency  

We are staunch believers in the value of the one-week residencies typically mandatory in all of our programmes. As already mentioned earlier, however, we do recognize the challenges raised by such events on you, the students. For those of you who always wanted an MBA or MSc, but were being held back by the prospect of having to attend a full week in Zurich or the UK, this should be a no brainer. But how can we justify a fully online programme? 

There’s no hiding behind the finger – the value of the residencies is not necessarily the tuition (this can be delivered relatively easily online), but meeting other like-minded people, from all around the world, doing the same programme, facing the same challenges, and heading in the same direction (graduation). You cannot really imagine the camaraderie and friendships built during such weeks. 

Our fully online programmes do not require you to attend a residency – but they do offer the option of doing so if you wanted to – perhaps you will find yourself freer, richer, more motivated to travel – know that is an option. 

For what it’s worth, we should mention that at graduation you receive a degree of the University of Cumbria – whether you studied on campus, online with a mandatory residency or fully online. No difference whatsoever. The choice is fully yours! 

We are proud to launch these new programmes, with the first intake starting already in May 2020. Be among the first applicants and enjoy the array of exciting introductory admission offers! 

5 EASY Steps to Successfully Start Budgeting

I have never been one for budgets. In my youth (and I still consider myself young at under 40), whenever I tried to keep a budget sheet on Excel or an old fashioned passbook, I have always found it boring, tedious (yes, I know it means the same as boring, but that is how I feel about it) and ultimately it just got me all worked up and confused. In short, I hated keeping a budget.

Rocket Science or Budgeting!?

And so, I stopped keeping a budget and just left the money in the bank using it as and when I needed it. I figured as I got older, I would get more responsible and would start budgeting. But that just did not happen, until one day it all just hit me – wife, kid, mortgage, car loan, living expenses, school fees, etc., etc., etc. – scrambling to keep afloat. Forget personal development – it’s all about survival.

So, I sat down, introspected and approached the budgeting issue as any other problem. It all starts with understanding the what and the why.

What is a budget?

It is a plan. A planed and controlled way for me to spend or save my money, knowing exactly where, when and how much I will need, how much I will be paying and how much I will be left with after.

In other words, budgeting is the ability to be able to say what each individual swiss franc ( or dollar or pound or rupee or naira or euro or whatever your currency is) is meant to do. Some francs will be tasked with paying your phone bill. Some with paying rent. Some might have no job at all – so their job would be called “emergency fund”.

What should I (someone who hates budgeting) consider when I start planning?

I promised you five easy steps to start budgeting, so here we go.

  1. Know your monthly budget (income): At the start of every month (for most people) fresh funds hit their bank accounts; maybe from a salary, parents, or a trust fund. It doesn’t matter where you get your money from, but this is your starting point. So, be clear when and how much money you get every month, this is your money available to budget. We’re talking net income (after taxes) and not gross income, unless you get taxed as self-employed / independent contractor / freelancer / whatever the word is in your country, in which case this also means you need to account for those taxes coming in later on. Important!
  2. Split it: I wanted to keep my budgeting simple. I started by splitting my budget into three groups or funds.
    • Needs: I started by making a list of my fixed monthly expenses: utility charges, telephone and internet charges, loans, insurance charges, housekeeping and maintenance charges, school fees, fuel and travel, etc. These are your fixed expenses and money have to be allocated to this fund. You can of course reduce your expenses here in a number of ways, such as moving to a cheaper or less expensive telephone and internet plan, saving on water and electricity (switch off the light when you leave the room), move to a house with a smaller rent, etc. Not rocket science, but worth mentioning.
    • Wants: This fund is put aside to improve the quality of life. Some people might say that this is not important, and you can do without, but I am definitely not one of those people. Going for movies and dinner with family, meeting friends for coffee, taking the kids to the arcade, subscribing to Audible or Netflix, buying a gift for the wife; I could do without any of this, but I would be miserable. There may be times when I might have to cut back on this, but that is alright as long as it is only for a short time. I would put aside about 50% of the budget remaining after the Needs fund.
    • Savings: The remaining 50% goes into my savings fund. My aim is to have at any time a minimum of 12 months Needs+Wants fund in my savings, with the sky as the upper limit of the fund.
  3. Use your credit/ debit card: Credit cards have a bad reputation and for good reason, a lot of people have failed to pay their cards back on time and have been penalised heavily and disproportionately by the card issuers for this mistake. It will also mess up your credit score. So, if you are someone who does not have the willpower or awareness to spend within your limits or pay the card on time, then do not use credit cards, just use your debit card. On the other hand, if you are like me (at least till now, fingers crossed), someone who ensures money is there in the bank to pay for every penny spent on the card and who has never missed a payment due date, the credit card can be awesome. 
    • They help you keep track on your spending and help you analyse your spending habits.
    • You earn points for every spend, which in turn translates into saving either in cash or purchases using points.
    • Most credit cards will offer some kind of discount, offers, insurance or cash backs – again savings.
  4. Be a hunter: Before making any purchase, lookout for offers or delay your purchase until a sales/ discount season. Check multiple stores for the best deal on the item you are looking to purchase. Even RKC, generally known for its frugality and already low costs, will occasionally run some promotional campaigns, driven by our desire to level the playing field for all sort of candidates, regardless of gender or cultural background. If you are signed up for our newsletter, you should know this – if you are not, what are you waiting for?
  5. Limit your expenses: Before making any purchase, ask yourself: 
    • Do I really need this? 
    • Do I have sufficient “Wants” fund for this purchase?
    • Can this purchase be delayed until a sale comes along?
    • Will a less expensive and lesser known brand work for me?
    • There’s a nifty trick for this one (in particular the delay option) – keep your credit card separated from your phone, which you presumably always have with you, and do not save its details on the browser. That will require you to stand up and go look for it every time you need/want (budget verbs!) to buy something – do not underestimate the power of inertia!
Keep track of your expenses, no matter how bored you get.

Budgeting might be the most boring aspect of your month/week/day, but it goes a long way in helping you get financial security, independence, and peace of mind. It is also the only way you can be confident you can afford big expenses such as a house, car, or an investment in your future in the form of a Master’s degree – yes, shameless plug. But it is the truth.

Can you actually afford a Master’s degree? Now is as good a time as ever: we are launching a number of new online master’s degree programmes, and we’re offering a limited time bursary on the tuition fees. If your budget is in good shape for it, and you believe in yourself, do check in with your RKC education advisor

Financial Management: Boring to Death or Deadly if Misunderstood?

Finance: each one of us deals with finance in some way or the other on a daily basis, whether we are a professional accountant, a number-crunching wizard, an artist, a medical practitioner, a lawyer, an entrepreneur or a home-maker. There is no escape from finance even if you do find it difficult to comprehend the financial concepts or resent dealing with numbers (that goes for myself, huh numbers!).  Being pervasive might make it one of two things (or maybe both): boring to death, or critically important. 

At RKC, we know an MBA is a prime management qualification for managers. Our Online MBAs give you a great overview of the business world and enhance your knowledge and skills further. And since Financial Management is an integral part of any business, we offer it as a core or as an elective module depending on which MBA programme you choose to pursue.  

Now, before I share with you an insider’s view of the online module let’s get started with the basics – learning what financial management is and why it is important in business.

What “Finance” really is – academically speaking 

Khan and Jain (as cited in Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian, 2009) define Finance as the art and science of managing money. Any kind of business entity, big or small, depends on finance to meet its requirements in the economic world and so if you accept that money is the lifeblood of the organization, then finance is its heart.

Types of Finance 

As described above, Finance is one of the most important functions of a business. It plays a paramount role in the smooth functioning of the business activities.

Finance can be classified into mainly two categories:  

Figure 1. Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian (2009). Paramasivan, C., and Subramanian, T. (2009). Financial management (New Delhi: New Age International (P) Ltd., Publishers). 

Private Finance includes the Individual, Partnership, and Business or Corporate Finance, while Public Finance, on the other hand, covers Central, State and Semi-Government Financial matters. (Source: Financial Management by Paramasivan and Subramanian (2009)).   

Financial Management 

According to Joseph and Massie (as cited in Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian, 2009): Financial Management “is the operational activity of a business that is responsible for obtaining and effectively utilizing the funds necessary for efficient operations.” The job of a finance manager includes procurement and efficient utilization of funds. Financial management has two main objectives: wealth maximization and profit maximization.  

So ultimately, why IS Financial Management important? 

It is imperative for any business to maintain adequate amounts of funds for its smooth operations. Financial Management thus plays an important role in the following: 

  1. Financial Planning:  Financial Management begins with the determination of the financial requirements of the business. 
  2. Acquisition of the funds: A financial manager employs the most effective means of acquiring adequate funds at minimum cost.  
  3. Utilization of funds: It is not just acquisition, financial management also involves the efficient and effective use of the sourced funds to improve the operational efficiency of the business. 
  4. Profitability: Employing financial management tools like accounting, budgetary control, ratio analysis and cost volume profit analysis, businesses look to improve their profitability. 
  5. Enhance the value of the firm: As stated earlier, one of the objectives of financial management is wealth maximization and improving returns for investors.  

 
What would you learn from the Financial Management module in the Online MBA? 

Business is about profit, and there can be sustainability only with proper knowledge of effective financial management. Oxford and Harvard Business School graduate Professor David Duffill will expand and reinforce your knowledge of financial accounting, management accounts, budgeting and financing. This module aims to provide an introduction to financial accountancy and managerial economics. The module will engage you in reflective and discursive argument on the materiality of different social, environmental and ethical issues, introducing you to accounting and principles of finance and letting you use your new knowledge in practical ways by using case studies. 

What our own students say about the module?

There is nothing better than to hear from the horse’s mouth (past and current students) though, so here’s what they have to say about the Financial Management module. Each cohort is surveyed at the end of the module.

For most students, the module was “an amazing learning experience”. The course developed their skills, enabling them to quickly adapt and find a new direction. The learning also allowed them to better understand changes in the economy, and identify new business opportunities.  

It “strengthened my business and financial skills”. Students benefit from a clear understanding of the foundations of finance as well as the various financial instruments used for valuations like futures and options and also from an understanding of financial statements to make an investment decision. Videos from Professor David Duffill and illustrated instructions on exercises or examples are seen as very helpful by an overwhelming majority. 

It is not all roses though. There is also agreement on the fact that assessments are very challenging (just like real business challenges are very … well … difficult!), yet they are also a very enjoyable experience allowing students to use different financial techniques to improve a business (for those who get it right anyway!).  

I hope you enjoyed reading about business finance management today. Stay tuned for next week’s blog that takes financial management to a more personal level – managing your personal (or family) budget! Watch this space!