Veronica Hailey, Vice-President of University of Bath and Dean of its management school, speaks to Bhanu Pratap Singh about Bath’s philosophy in management studies…
Q. What makes Bath University one of the best universities in England?
A. We are one of the best universities in England even though we are the youngest among the top five. We attribute this to our research culture. Also, the way we train our students, making them highly employable. Since a lot is packed in a short period of time, we emphasize a lot on the practical aspect of teaching and learning.
At University of Bath we have made it compulsory for our undergraduate students to take one year paid internship. This helps the students to understand the business and managerial aspects of the sectors they want to work in. Imparting practical knowledge to students is one of the top priorities here.
Q. What steps do you take to impart practical education to your students?
A. As a management school, we lay a lot of stress not just on the knowledge aspect of the education, but also how much that education can be used in the real world. For this, we have various methods, systems and techniques, through which we help our students, gain practical experience, thereby adding to their skill sets. Our students help to find solutions for complex business problems.
You can say that while doing this, our students along with industry leaders work as mini-consultancies, where business problems are discussed, analysed and solved. We also have events like Careers Function, where we teach our students boardroom expertise such as presentation skills.
Q. What are some of the current global B-School trends?
A. These days there is additional focus on things such as supply change management. With e-commerce gaining popularity around the world, supply chain management has become one of the core areas of management. This has been basically due to the fact there has been a political, social and cultural awakening. Impact of artificial intelligence on small jobs is also being studied in management schools across the globe. The idea is to train students for the future, as technology keeps evolving after every few years. One needs to understand the social impact of it.
Another trend which is on a rise in management schools is that students are now being taught data analysis as well. Over the past few years, data analysis has become a big part of the decision making of various corporates. Hence, in order to give the management students an edge, data analysis has also become a part of the curriculum in a number of management schools. There is also a rise in the number of women management students.
Across the company boards, women are increasingly taking charge of important business positions. So we can say that there we have witnessed a steady rise in the number of women candidates for management courses across the world.
Q. How do you select your faculty?
A. When it comes to selecting the faculty, we have very strict criteria. We select only those candidates who are not only research-oriented but also have a knack for teaching university students. Usually, it has been noticed that a teacher might be good with research but is not able to teach (his/her primary job). In order to weed out such candidates, we have a strict process in place.
Teachers have targets which need to be met, only after they have achieved those targets, will they be able to continue in the university. We are not going to take someone who is good in research, but is unable to teach and vice-versa.
Our faculty has to be exceptional in both. We have a responsibility towards our students by providing them with the best minds as their faculty in the university. We maintain high standards. We have very strict guidelines even for our junior faculty. Our junior faculty have a probation period of three years. And during this period we regularly assess them. There is a system in place, where the junior faculty undergoes regular evaluation. We even have students evaluating the teachers on their teaching methods and other aspects. In spite of such a demanding schedule, I can proudly say that our teachers are happy while teaching as we have a challenging work environment.
Q. What are your thoughts on liberal arts education?
A. In the modern world, it is important for a student to become a well-rounded employee or a manager. This is where liberal arts education comes in. Students are able to look at a problem from all the possible angles. Education in the liberal arts enables the students to search and come out with the best solution available.
Communication has become essential in every job, it is not important to just know the solution; you should be able to explain the solution as well. Liberal arts education will help you look at a problem from a macro level. In the modern work environment, it is important to learn all the important aspects.
Q. What is Bath’s philosophy?
A. We believe that a management student should not just look at the financial side; there should be some kind of a social and cultural aspect to it as well. We want our students to be socially driven. Our students should understand that they had an extremely privileged education, because of this they have a responsibility towards the society, and towards those who are less privileged. Our students have a responsibility towards the society, which they have to fulfil.
We make sure that our students understand that with great privilege comes a responsibility to do better for the society. Hence, it is important for them to contribute for the betterment of the general population. It is not just about taking, it is also important to give something back to the society.
Q. What are some of the achievements of Bath?
A. We have been ranked among the top five universities in the UK. This is a huge achievement for us considering the fact that we are only a couple of decades old, while the rest of the universities are a couple of centuries old.
We have also been rated Gold in Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) by the UK Government. Another achievement which I am proud to share is that in 2014, according to Research Excellence Framework, 87 percent of Bath’s submitted research activity was defined as world-leading and internationally excellent.
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