Women in RKC – Iulia Maria Garbacea, M.Sc. Marketing, University of Salford, UK

These are difficult and scary times, and at least for me, it just highlights how much I depend on the strength of the women in my life to see me through. I pray and hope that all our readers are being safe, taking precautions, practicing social distancing and doing their little bit to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Be safe! 

As we continue with these Women’s Day series of blog posts, we asked some of our students to share their experiences with us – the challenges of getting back to school, of managing work and study along with family, and the unique challenges they faced being female students. 

Ms. Iulia Maria Garbacea

Ms. Iulia Maria Garbacea is one of our student ambassadors and is a graduate of our M.Sc. programme in Marketing through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK. Let us see what she has to say:

Who is … 

A short profile 

Sahil Devasia (SD): Who are you, really? 

Iulia Maria Garbacea (IMG): I am a 28 year old Romanian woman, living in Bucharest. I am a bit younger than the average graduate (or at least was when I graduated) but would not change it for the world. Professionally, I am working on the implementation of a new ERP project for a big telecom company. 

Getting back into education 

Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree 

SD: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you? 

IMG: Well, I wanted to see how other education systems worked. I did my Bachelor’s in Romania, but for my master’s wanted something different. 

SD: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

IMG: It was intimidating having to balance a full-time job with studies, so it took me some time to decide to go for it. And I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. I had to do a lot of work on myself – to avoid procrastination, to not be late with submitting my papers, to study on weekends, to take days off so that I could finish my papers. 

SD: What surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

IMG: That I can learn much more by researching articles/topics for my papers than I ever did by memorizing information. 

SD: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

IMG: It depends a lot I think on the period of life in which you decide to go back to school. In my case it was easier, since I did not have anybody else to care for (children) and I could use the free time to focus on my studies. But I think that even if it might be more challenging for women later in life, they are setting an example for their children – studying at any age is possible. I think it is important to invest in our children, by investing in ourselves. 

Getting the degree 

The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently 

SD: Which programme did you do? Why? 

IMG: I studied Marketing because I believe this field has a lot of potential. I believe a good marketer is like a psychologist. 

SD: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

IMG: In my case, the most important lesson was not an academic one, it was one of personal development. I proved to myself that I am smart and determined enough to study in a language different from my own. I also had the luck to meet and make friends with people from around the world at our residency in Zurich. It was so much fun! 🙂 

SD: How did you balance work and studies? 

IMG: This was the most challenging part, especially when writing the dissertation. I worked on my assignments in my spare time, and also sometimes at work. I listened to a looooot of focus music to help keep my mind from wandering. 

SD: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

IMG: Personally, I did not feel like I had it harder than my male colleagues. It was a very gender-neutral environment. We were all students in front of the professors. 

Life post degree 

What changed, if anything? 

SD: What’s new in your life since graduating / starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

IMG: I switched from a more commercial role, into a more IT-focused position. 

SD: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

IMG: Yes, I am able to organize my projects better, to keep up with my commitments, and to be on time with delivery. 

SD: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the work place? 

IMG: I feel that any type of studies can help reduce gender discrimination in the workplace. As far as I am concerned, the online programmes are a way of keeping up with the modern world. We can do almost anything online nowadays, why not study? As people start working, it is very difficult for them to attend night-schools, or weekend schools if they want to study in parallel. But studying online means that you can listen to courses while commuting, or while taking a break from work. 

Advice for other women 

Or other students, really. 

SD: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

IMG: It takes a lot of commitment and a lot of hard work, but at the end, the knowledge you gain is something that no one can ever take away from you. Also, those annoying focus music tracks from YouTube – they are a life changer. I still use them today when I need to work on important things. 

SD: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

IMG: The ‘How to write you dissertation’ handbook – absolutely necessary! 

Closing thoughts 

SD: Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

IMG: Just that investing in a woman is an investment in a generation of people. 

Our own little contribution: March Women’s bursaries of up to 2’500 CHF! 

We, at RKC, are proud to play a part in the ongoing efforts in reducing the gender disparity in education. We have already announced a special bursary on the tuition fees for all female applicants during the month of March in celebration of the International Women’s Day, only a few days to go, don’t lose out! #EachforEqual!

If you have been thinking about getting your master’s degree, proving to yourself and others that you CAN do it, now would be a good time to take the plunge. Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

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.

MBA or MSc: Is there a difference? Should you care?

It’s been a while since I finished my MBA, but I very clearly remember my thought process and the confusion I felt before deciding to start it.

I kept asking myself all sort of questions.

These are just some of the many questions that flashed through my mind at that time. But once the dust settled and I picked the path I wished to travel, a new question popped up.

Should I do an MBA or an M.Sc. (in management/business)?

Back then I already had friends who were doing or had completed MBA and M.Sc. programmes in management from universities around the world. As I myself was looking only at full time on-campus programmes, I asked them about their courses to get a better understanding on which programme to enrol for. These differences carry to the online versions too.

There are some basic differences between an MBA and an M.Sc programme.

  • Student demography: MBA programmes are usually targeted at individuals who have a minimum of 5 years work experience and as a consequence are usually somewhat older, people who are perhaps already in middle management positions. Whereas the M.Sc degree programmes are targeted at younger graduates, individuals with little to no work experience, usually coming in straight from their bachelor studies.
A graphic of median age distributions over MBA and MSc programmes since 2010
Figure 1. Median age for female (orange) and male (blue) students across the MBA and MSc programmes in RKC since 2010 – a clear and significant difference (statistically significant that is, rather than “important”).
  • Teaching methods: From the student demography we can deduce how the education will be structured in class. M.Sc. programmes are usually more theoretical and classroom centric, whereas MBA programmes are based on experiential learning, calling on the work experience of the students to analyse case studies, projects and submit dissertations, working in groups with other students, learning from their experience coupled with the theoretical aspects of learning.
  • Focused study: MBA programmes are usually focused on general management and not in a specialised field of study, in fact most of the modules taught in an MBA programme would be on general management. M.Sc. programmes on the other hand are usually more focused in a particular field of study (for example, Information Systems Management, Global Management, Accounting and Finance, etc.). 
  • Duration: MBA programmes are usually 18 to 24 months long, with a project and dissertation. M.Sc. programmes can usually be completed in 12 months, although they too will typically require a dissertation.
  • Cost: In most universities MBA programmes are priced much higher than M.Sc. programmes (although you will find exceptions too).

So, which one is good for me?

In recent times more and more universities have started creating courses where the differences have been reduced, creating courses that are unique and catering to the student’s requirements. This is especially true for online master’s degree programmes where technology has had a big impact on communication and giving students from all over the world and from different professional backgrounds access to information like never before.

So, which one 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

All you need to know about University of Cumbria’s Residency

It is 2020! First and foremost, on behalf of our entire team at Robert Kennedy College, I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year. We wish you good health and a positive mindset, and success will follow!

All of our University of Cumbria’s online MBA programmes have six-course modules – four core modules, one elective and one residential. The mandatory one-week residential module is held in the UK at either the Ambleside, Lancaster or Carlisle campus. The module title is “Tackling Global-Local Challenges in Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability“. There are several dates during the year which you can choose from to attend the residency that fits your busy schedule. 

Time flies and it is almost time for the first Residency in January 2020 for our University of Cumbria’s Master of Business Administration programme students. For those who are not our students yet and wondering what is a Residency, keep on reading to find out all about it. And those who are registered for this upcoming residency, pull up a diary and make notes of what to expect and how to prepare well for the residency, because here are some real insights, tips and advice from our current students about their own experience attending the residency last year. 

The topic: Tackling Global-Local Challenges in Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability

All our MBA programmes focus on real-life problems and issues that enable you to think critically about your company and your own career. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), according to Visser, involves what is called the four ‘DNA responsibility bases’ of good governance, value creation, environmental integrity and societal contribution. There is a demand for the more global marketplace and more ethical managerial conduct to deal with the global-local challenges, and responsible leadership is an answer to such demand.

Our students are leaders or aspiring leaders in the business world who face this challenge in their companies every day. This residential module allows the students to gain insight into how the dimensions of corporate governance, sustainable development and ethics are affecting and shaping today’s organizational policies and practices. Students are guided and invigorated to unique ideas and solutions to issues faced by their current organization or local community. This is an enriching one-week that promotes experiential learning through contemporary case studies and teamwork.

Where and When to plan for residency?

We surveyed about 120 of our current MBA students with some of the frequently asked questions about the residency. We got 50 answers back (a response rate you should be very happy with for your dissertations, even though you would, of course, aim for higher numbers!). Here’s what they have to say about their experience at the residency, sharing some immensely useful tips learned the hard experiential way.

There was 50:50 split on the choice of location of residency between the Ambleside and Lancaster campus.

A vast majority of students (80%) had completed at least four modules before attending the residency and a little less than half of all respondents (46%) thought the right time to attend the residency was when they were about half-way through the course. So the takeaway here is to try and take the residency somewhere after the third or fourth module.

On the other hand, 24% of students would have rather attended the residency as soon as possible after completing the first module.

Attending the residency right after the first module allows one to have human interaction in the otherwise online programme, establish relationships that develop and last throughout the programme and beyond, and allow you to better relate to your peers and colleagues

Paul H.

Some students found that it can help with the rest of the modules too. Peter said that he found taking the residency early on gave additional value in the structuring of academic writing and formulation of assignments as well as how to use OneSearch.

For those who voted for attending residency either halfway through or as late as possible attributed it to the fact that having finished other modules equipped them with a better foundation and management tools to interact and respond in the group.

Thus depending on whether you are more a human interaction person or self-starter, you can choose the right time to attend your residency. 

MALIC Residency Nov 2012
Team Discussion during Residency

What else do you learn at the residency?

Many of our students ask “why is the residency important in an online programme?” and what does one actually gain from it.

It was a great experiential learning experience with an interdisciplinary and diverse group from around the world.

Luis C.

Many students gained an interest and understanding of the future focus of sustainability and climate change, the value of cross-sector collaboration, how to tackle ethical dilemmas and apply ethical theories in real-life.

Others learned about the concepts of Triple bottom line, SDGs 2015 and ERS, and yet others learned how to structure their dissertation. Maurice B., who came to the residency with over 35 years of experience of working, studying and interacting with multi-cultural groups, was nevertheless impressed by the high degree of professionalism, dedication and above all the feelings of warmth, the receptiveness of the residency.

Congratulations to all on a splendid display of academics, stewardship of facilitation, operational and executive excellence – the absolute best I have ever seen!

Maurice B.

A staggering 80% of the students surveyed agreed that the learning at residency was completely relevant and 92% said there was a definitive value-add in attending the residency.

The majority of the students found meeting the peers and professors a valuable experience and felt better prepared for the rest of the programme. So though the residency week can be pretty intensive and action-packed (as 44% of students agree), 62% of students admit it is a lot of fun as well!

It is the best experience of the MBA program, combining both theoretical and practical aspects of sustainability in business with a multicultural team. The group exercises are just great and the tour in nature is very inspiring. I’m convinced you will enjoy it!

Serge
A reflection session in progress

Where to stay during the residency?

I must say it was a unanimous response from most of the students on the survey, that one must stay close to the university during the residency week. Make your travel plans in advance and book accommodation early to avoid any disappointments. Talk to our StudentCare team and they can provide a list of accommodation near campus for your stay during residency.

Book accommodations directly through university suggested facilities and arrive a day early to acclimate. Don’t forget to make daily summarizations  of activities and sessions.

Rosamunde C.

Many students also put a word of caution about the wet weather conditions in Cumbria, UK and recommend coming prepared for cold and rainy weather. 

To summarize the residency, I would like to quote John’s advice in his own words:

1. Plan for your UK visa in advance – it takes up to 3 months depending on the holiday season and country you are located in. ([editor’s note] and this was before Brexit!)

2. Book the hotel in advance – depending on the season, it is difficult to find accommodation especially in and around the University of Cumbria specially during the March season. 

3. Weather – when you want to play golf, it rains in the UK. Therefore, prepare yourself with winter-wear, umbrella (if possible), windcheater or raincoat and boots as there are outdoor activities and trekking involved. 

4. Time management – spend about an hour to revise the day’s work so you are prepared for the next day’s activity. When in groups, participate and lead the team as some peers may be in a holiday mood. Get them to work with you and research for the final day activity – prepare and participate. 

5. Cumbria – is the place of William Wordsworth – daffodils are everywhere, enjoy them and unwind in the midst of nature. This is the place to be if you are interested in Sustainability and Environment.

John M.

I hope reading through the blog you gained valuable insight into our residency module and how to best prepare yourself for it. And we could not agree more with this quote from Fatos:

It will be an experience you will have once in a lifetime. I assure you will not regret any day being in Ambleside!

Fatos A.

Finally, a big thanks to all our students who helped us provide you with these tips and tricks about the residency – they generously offered their time and advice – a sharing spirit we witness every day in our OnlineCampus.

See you in Cumbria!

Can you travel and study at the same time? Here are 6 ways to help you do it!

The popularity of online studies has been on the rise in recent years, and we have seen so much right here at Robert Kennedy College. With practically our whole student population being in full-time employment, we know the flexibility afforded by online delivery is amongst one of the highest-ranking reasons why people study online. 

I understand how critical it is to have the possibility of being able to access, learn and review course content anytime, from anywhere in the world. Working professionals like yourself have a demanding job and may be required to travel frequently for work.  

Now while it might look pretty simple and easy to study online on the surface, it is actually not quite so. I like to compare this to a duck’s swimming – when you see a duck advancing through water, you probably think calm and grace. Our eyes behold a view of effortless and smooth progression on water. However, under the surface, the duck is paddling frantically to propel itself forward.  

A duck seemingly advancing with no effort through the water 

I do not intend to scare you with this analogy. I want to focus on the duck’s efforts and skills that keep it advancing (keeping afloat is apparently the easy part, for biological reasons, ducks weighing less than the water they displace due to their uropygial gland and air-trapping feathers). Similarly, you can advance smoothly through your studies with the help of planning, foresight, prioritization skills and grit – especially when you are travelling.  

So, here are some tips that will help you stay afloat while planning your studies on the go: 

Plan ahead  

I personally can’t get enough of planning. I sometimes re-plan my plans (ha-ha) just to be sure of how my schedule and week/month looks like. Yes, planning is the key to be able to travel stress-free and balance the commitment of a university course module with the disruption caused by travelling. While you may not always be able to choose your travel times when travelling for work, do take your study calendar into account and redesign your plans accordingly. 

Plan travel around assignments 

Give yourself enough time at each step of your travel plan. To begin with, make sure you do not plan your 15-hour flight across continents a day before your assignment submission. Be wary and give yourself ample time to recover from jetlag. Reversely, if you have little control over your travel plans, advance your deadlines and submit earlier, or look into the administrative processes that may help you get an extension if done in time. 

Arrange your meetings in a way that you have some relaxing peaceful time segments during that day. This will allow you enough time to catch up with your course material and focus on the assignments due. There might be some occasions when you will have to prioritize studies and must skip that social evening with work associates and miss a drink. Reward yourself later when your work is done.  

You can download course material on RKC’s iOS and Android apps

Organize Internet access 

Most of your study materials normally require the internet to access them. You want to avoid situations where you have time to spare but no internet access nor offline materials. Know when you would be in limited connectivity zones and download the necessary course materials ahead of travel. RKC’s iOS and Android apps can help with that. 

As a student, you can also get internet access through the Eduroam network, something most Universities in the world are a part of. You use your home institution’s credentials to login to any “eduroam” WiFi you find (typically in and around University campuses, University and sometimes public libraries). Have a look at the eduroam map before travelling to know if you have this option.

Have reliable technology and back-ups 

While you are travelling you are completely reliant on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Always have your chargers, spare power banks and hard drives to backup data so that you do not lose your work. With the pervasiveness and ease of use of cloud back-ups today, “I lost my laptop/my disk died/etc.” is the equivalent of the “dog ate my homework” of yesteryear. 

Mind the zone 

While our online course materials can be accessed at all times, you may have to be careful of the different time-zones you are travelling to and how it will affect your deadlines (they don’t – your deadlines are always Zürich time!). What a different time zone will affect is when you must submit – so work that out in advance and anticipate the deadline rather than miss it. Another impact of travelling to a different time zone is that last minute questions may receive delayed responses with respect to when you were back home. 

Keep track of your progress 

It is easy to lose track of time when you are travelling and have so many things to manage. In order to make sure you do not fall back on coursework, keep close checks on your schedules and deadlines. While travelling breaks away from the 9 to 5 schedule (or 7 to 7 for the unlucky few) and could offer more flexibility in terms of the time of day you can study, it is helpful to chalk it out. 

Do not fret if you face any technical issues while travelling. Simply reach out to our student care team and they will be happy to help.  

It may feel overwhelming at times to balance work, study and travel. But with adequate preparation ahead of time you can enjoy smooth sailing; gracefully swimming like a duck towards your goals (with more or less frantic paddling). With these simple yet vital study tips, you can certainly ace study and travel together. Please share with us any tips or tricks that you might have up your sleeve from your personal experience.  

P.S: An easy way to connect with us on the go is to download our OnlineCampus Mobile App, which helps you prepare your “offline study packs”. Here are the links: 

For Android users: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=swiss.rkc.cumbria 
and for iPhone users: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/unicumbria/id1464904297?mt=8 

6 Reasons to Do a Master’s Degree Programme

I am going to tell you a story about a friend of mine and yes, I know “a friend” sounds made up, but this friend is real and what happened to him could happen to anyone of us in the corporate world.  

To make matters simple, let’s call this friend of mine Jojo (yes, this time a made-up name). A while back Jojo found himself out of a job due to no fault of his. The reasons given: downsizing, centralising, the usual corporate jibber jabber, and this from a company in which he had spent the last two years of his life setting up and developing an entire function for the organisation. 

He was reporting directly to the Managing Director and Country-Head, a position he achieved by hard work and determination and with professional experience going back two decades – working for some of the biggest multi-national companies in the world. He was not worried: with his experience, getting a job would be EASY. 

Safely crossing the gap from one job to the next is not always straightforward…

But as the days turned into weeks and then into months and he was still unable to find a job, the gloom around him was palpable.  

Jojo’s story 

Jojo started his career immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from a top local university and as his career progressed at a faster-than-average pace, he never found the need and time to go back to school and enhance his academic profile too.  

Over time as life evolved, so grew his professional and personal commitments, demanding a greater share of his time and effort. He concluded that putting in time, effort and money into his education did not merit the return on investment.  

Fast forward to Jojo’s job search – he found that the lack of a master’s degree was having a profound impact on his ability to get hired. 

To be clear, I am not saying that you need a master’s degree to succeed in life. In fact, most people don’t have a master’s degree and are very successful in their profession. What I am saying is that a master’s degree can have a positive impact in your professional career (because, learning is good :D).

Added benefit of a Master’s – graduation is fun! Notice how these RKC graduates from 2018 have big smiles on their faces, despite the freezing cold of November in York.

Here are 6 reasons you should consider doing a master’s degree. 

  1. It shows you are hard working and committed: A Master’s degree implies that you have taken the extra step of getting a higher qualification, gaining extra skills and specialisations. Having worked on projects and submitted assignments and dissertations in a timely manner, it shows you to be more disciplined, structured and task oriented. 
  2. It levels the playing field: In today’s competitive job market, most of the candidates applying for any above entry level position will already have at least one master’s degree, if not more specialised qualifications and just a bachelor’s degree or lower educational qualification would just not cut it. Depending on the nature of the job and the position you are aspiring to, a master’s degree might be the minimum requirement to even apply. 
  3. It can help with switching careers: There may come a time in your career when you pull your hair and cry out – “I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”. I understand, I have been there a couple of times. For whatever reason, if you feel it is time for a change in career to a field that requires specific knowledge that you do not have or to a career in a regulated industry that requires you to have certain education qualifications, a master’s degree might give you a leg up in your new career. 
  4. It can help you standout: Unfortunately, this is the world that we live in. There may be several of your co-workers eyeing the same promotion that you have been after. Whether it is a management position or that specialised role within your company, a master’s degree could make the difference in your getting that position. In some cases, a company might also be willing to sponsor the master’s degree if they feel you are a potential leader and it could be mutually beneficial, so it is always worth asking the question to either your manager or the HR department.  
  5. It may help with relocation: We are no longer limited by geography. A master’s degree might help you in getting a work visa to a particular country; after all, you might be required to show why you are more deserving of a particular job than a citizen of the country and a master’s degree might go some ways in your company hiring you over a local.  
  6. It can fill the gap: Going back to the example of my friend, the longer you go without employment the harder it will get to explain the gap in your resume and to get employed. Doing a master’s degree is a good way to fill this gap, improve your knowledge, gain new skills and to generally show you are not one to wait around for things to happen.  

There’s more?

I am sure that there are many other reasons why people choose to do a master’s degree with benefits we wouldn’t have even thought off. If you have experienced or can think of any, let us know in the comments below! 

Finally, getting back to Jojo. It took him a while, but he is finally back to work. It is not what he wanted to do, and he had to take a hefty pay cut, but he is working again. He has still not joined a master’s programme (despite my constant reminders) but he is on the lookout for one that meets his requirements. Let’s hope he doesn’t leave it for too late.  Can it really ever be too late?

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.

Robert Kennedy College and York St John graduates being silly with their hats in the Quad before graduation.

Understanding University Rankings – humph!

So, when I decided to write an informative blog on university rankings to enable you the reader to make an informed decision, I did not realise what I was getting myself into. And after days of research and multiple migraines, I have decided that if I just go ahead and dump all the information here, you are just going to lose interest, get confused and finally just go away and never come back. 

Utility of Ranking Systems

To begin with, should we even look at rankings to base our decisions on? After all UNESCO did observe that rankings “do more harm than good” and you will find some of the reasoning for this as you read further. On the flip side they also observed that rankings have also become a measure of quality and have created an atmosphere of competition between universities. You can find more information on this UNESCO finding in the UNESCO Publishing – Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses.

Like most things in life, rankings also have their good bits and their bad bits. To begin with, there is no almighty, all encompassing ranking system out there, because that is just not possible. There are just so many parameters that educational institutions can be ranked on, any ranking agency will just get overwhelmed with data and quite possibility put out a very confused and confusing report. There was even a ranking in the United States that ranked universities on squirrels (yes, the cute little rodent).

So, most agencies will pick and choose a few areas they feel are important and grade the university. This is where things start to look a little murky.

The Perspective

I remember when I was considering universities to apply for my MBA, I just opened a few of the top selling magazines and educational journals, looked at the top universities, made a list of universities that featured in multiple magazines/journals and applied to them. It did not ever occur to me to look into the parameters that the universities were being evaluated on and if they were even relevant to me.

There are many ways to reach your destination. The choice is yours!

So, make your own list, make a list of parameters you feel are important, may be campus job placements, alumni engagement, faculty, student to teacher ratio, campus, etc., and focus on rankings that evaluate on parameters that come closest to your list. Another point of view is to forget about the university rankings and look at subject rankings (say, Law). A particular university might not be ranked too high, but for the subject you are interested in, the university might be ranked 1st in the North West and 8th in the UK.

As we are looking at rankings that come closest to our list of parameters (and here comes the murky bit) there is usually no transparency. Most ranking agencies will not share their algorithm (and why should they, they have worked hard on it and have spent a lot of money on it) or for that matter, even parameters that have gone into giving a particular rank to a parameter. Why did university A get 8 points for Student Engagement, but university B get only 3 points? At the same time, last year university A was on 3 points, what has changed? So, look at rankings that are a little more transparent, they don’t have to open up their algorithms to you, but a little transparency will help you make an informed decision.

The Rich get Richer

There are also a number of ranking agencies, especially the smaller ones, that fall into the trap of ranking universities on their reputations. While I personally believe there is nothing wrong with this – to a very limited extent – after all, the university probably worked hard on developing this reputation and in all likelihood deserves it, basing a ranking system primarily on reputation will continuously reward only a handful of universities. For example, a reputation based ranking system will always rank universities like Oxford and Cambridge at the top while ignoring universities that are working towards developing their reputation by offering better programmes, teaching methodologies or more advanced and modern study environments.

Universities have also learnt to play the ranking game. Most universities have dedicated teams that engage ranking agencies, understand how their ranking system works and learn to either improve their offering and thereby improve their ranking or to manipulate the system and improve. Look at the older rankings of the university and mark their progression through the ranks, seek out explanations as to why a university has improved in a certain parameter but not in others. Try to seek out transparency on the change in rankings. 

Look at rankings that are updated on a regular basis, preferably on at least an annual basis. A university on top today may be at the bottom tomorrow.

Further Research

Finally, let me leave you with the link to the Wikipedia page (even though using Wikipedia in academic writing would get me wrist slapped by Dr Negoescu!) on the college and university rankings, where you will find information on a number of global and regional ranking agencies that should provide you with information you might find useful or you might just find confusing. This is the way the cookie crumbles, sorry! I wish you the best in your hunt for that perfect university, there is one for everyone.

It is worth it at the end

Since you are reading this blog, you probably already know that we at Robert Kennedy College offer more than 30 Master’s degree programmes in partnerships with 3 UK universities and we have been helping more than 14,000 students from almost every country in the world develop their skill sets, improve their CVs and advance their careers – you are in good hands should you consider taking the plunge. Have a look at our programme catalogue and get in touch with our Admissions’ team if you have any questions about the programme most suitable for your background.

The University of Cumbria Law ranks 1st in the North West and 8th in the UK!

Yes, you read that right! The Guardian League tables for 2020 have our partner the University of Cumbria Law’s programmes right at the top for the North West region, and 8th in the UK, a few places away from Cambridge, Oxford, and Durham.

England is divided into 9 official regions. North-West England, one of those official regions, consists of the five counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The North West is known as the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and is home to some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. The third most populated region in the UK, the North-West is also known for its vibrant and diverse culture. It is also the home to our partner, the University of Cumbria, operating from campuses spread across Cumbria and North Lancashire. 

So, what does it mean to be #1? There are 12 institutions (with University status) in the North West England that offer programmes in Law. The Guardian League Tables recently ranked the University of Cumbria as #1 for Law, ahead of the University of Liverpool and the University of Manchester. Cumbria also bags the  #8 position overall in law, competing against a total of 101 institutions nationwide. 

The Guardian League Table ranks the Universities on the basis of several factors that are important to students while making their choices for where to study. These include factors such as how much students benefit from the teaching and how much they like the subject and the University. The University of Cumbria ranked high on these parameters as well with 97% of students satisfied with their course and 95% satisfied with the teaching at the University. 

For our part, we’re making it possible for students from all over the world to join Cumbria’s LL.M International Business Law – with online delivery and a one-week residency in the lake district in Cumbria’s Ambleside campus. 

See the full The Guardian League Tables for 2020.

Download the catalogue for more information about the Online Masters of Law programmes offered by the University of Cumbria and RKC. 

Things to consider before considering a career change

Let’s admit it! Many of us are not pursuing careers that we dreamt of. Some of us may never have dreamt of a career and ended up doing what was available or what we see others doing. I feel happy (and jealous) of people who figured out early in their lives their career paths. For a variety of reasons, we all have thought of changing careers at some point in life; including those who were once happy with their jobs.

You are not alone if you are considering a career change. It has been an increasingly popular trend in employment history. It is becoming more likely that people will go through at least one career change in their lifetime. 

Here are some stats..  BLS, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, released results from the National Longitudinal Survey in August 2019 about the number of jobs, labor market experience and earnings growth of a sample of Americans tracked over 40 years. According to the survey, individuals held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52, with nearly half of these jobs held before age 25. In this news release, a job is defined as an uninterrupted period of work with a particular employer. On average, men held 12.5 jobs and women held 12.1 jobs from ages 18 to 52. Men held 5.9 jobs from ages 18 to 24, compared with 1.9 jobs from ages 45 to 52. The reduction in the average number of jobs held in successive age groups was similar for women. 

Though it’s not uncommon, a career change should be thought through. Here are a few things you should consider before a career change:

Self-Introspection 

It is critical to self analyze and find out why are you looking for a career change. What is the reason for your discontentment: is it the work or the work environment and co-workers? Are you financially insecure? (Experts advise not to base any decision solely on the basis of money). Are you stuck in the same position doing monotonous work for years, with limited scope for change if any? Are you losing the motivation? Have your priorities changed? Do you yearn for work-life balance? Are you not passionate about the job anymore? Do you simply want to search for a new ‘meaning’ to your life?

Being emotionally and financially strong

If you are still early on in your career, there may be fewer things to worry about before switching careers. However, if it is a mid-life or mature career change, make sure you sort the emotional and financial ties.

Get support

Communicate your thoughts and vision to your family, friends and colleagues. While some of them may discourage you and urge you to take sane decisions, it is important that you have a cushion of support around you at a time you would need it most.

Take small steps 

Do not quit your current job until you find a new one, even if you feel being on the fence and frustrated. Start intensive research in the industry you envision yourself to be in and look for the skills required for those jobs. Make sure to update and personalize your resume for different jobs you may apply to. Explore free resources online for resume and skill development. Now is the ideal time to invest in yourself.

Build and Dive into your Network

Networking is the key to job search. While making conversation and networking may seem out of your comfort zone, you will be amazed to find how valuable a resource people are. Reach out to your contacts or build a network on social media for informational interviews that will not only help you understand the jobs you are interested in but if you are impressive enough they may even consider you for any open or potential positions!  Consider volunteering for different organizations or events to build your network.

Consider further education

While some of your skills from the previous job are transferable, you may have to consider getting another degree. Some jobs may require you to have a certain professional qualification and association, or a Master’s degree. While in a job and considering a career change, you may not want an education debt and going back to school full time. Online education is the solution that will not only fit your busy schedule but also not burn a hole in your pocket. Robert Kennedy College offers Online Masters programmes in exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria, University of Salford and York St John University. Download the catalogue to know more about the programmes.

I am sure the points above give some food for thought and changing careers does not seem to be as intimidating. If you approach the change radically, it looks more like an achievable dream. We would love to hear from you how you coped with career change. Share your story and advice in the comments below. 

Points to consider before starting your career in Marketing

Philip Kotler defines marketing as “Satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process”. The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.

Philip Kotler

This is what you get when you Google for the definition of marketing. While these definitions leave me personally a little confused and strangely unsatisfied, I cannot argue with them as

  1. I understand they are academic definitions.
  2. One definition is by one of the recognised Gods of marketing and the other by an organisation that has the words Institute, Chartered and Marketing in its name. 

But these definitions really do not help you understand how big the field of marketing is, what one has to do to get into this field or whether this is even the right career for you.

The following are a few steps to follow that can help you make an informed decision.

  1. Marketing is a broad field with specialisations such as social media, SEO specialist, media manager, copywriter, just to name a few, and marketing being such a dynamic field this list is constantly evolving. 
  2. Due to the number of specialisations available in the marketing field, it is not possible for one person to have the adequate knowledge to perform all the jobs with any semblance of competence. Hence it is important to know which specialisation you wish to build your career in, and a better understanding of the specialisations is important in making an informed decision. Keep in mind, not all specialisations will pay the same, offer the same career growth, require the same qualifications that you currently have or even be able to keep your interest in the job over time.
  3. Once you have identified the specialisation you wish to build your career in, work towards building your knowledge base and competence in this specialisation. There is a lot of information that is available free of cost online, on sites like youtube.com and other e-learning platforms. There are also a lot of e-learning platforms offering paid but high value certifications and programmes that offer more specialised knowledge. 
  4. Marketing is also all about networking and another way to increase your knowledge in the field and help you make an informed decision, that could also be fun, is to attend marketing seminars and networking events. If this is what you want to do then spending time with like-minded people will be fun and will have the added benefit of creating opportunities. 
  5. If you have the time and motivation, may be look at doing an internship or short-term assignments in the specialisation of your interest. There is no substitute to doing to get a feel of the job.
  6. Once you have decided to become a marketeer, it is important to keep updated and motivated and the beauty about marketing, being such a dynamic field, is someone is always doing something interesting and new, and being a marketeer, will definitely be blowing his or her trumpet for all to see. Hence information on this new and innovative marketing methodology can be found online. Keep reading, learning, growing and innovating. 

Robert Kennedy College with 31 Master’s degree programmes (including MarketingMedia LeadershipDigital Business, etc.) and almost 14,000 students from almost every county offers one of the most diverse, accredited and globally recognised online master’s degree programmes in both Business Law and Management through exclusive partnerships with British universities. For more information download our programme catalogue.