January starts can be helpful for students who are completing exam resits, or international students looking for more time to complete visa applications.
And this year, Aston Business School in Birmingham is joining a host of other global business schools by offering January intakes for two of their established business Master programs: the MSc in Business and Management and the MSc in Entrepreneurship.
Aston’s Entrepreneurship degree was ranked fifth in the UK and in the top 50 worldwide by Eduniversal this year, and the school also has its own business incubator, BSEEN.
Despite this success, the school is still looking for ways of innovating their programs—the addition of the January intake also includes a complete overhaul of the course structures on both MSc programs, offering students more ways to apply their learning.
The change to the programs was the brainchild of Kathy Daniels (pictured), associate dean for postgraduate programs at Aston. She says the January intakes offer students greater flexibility with their learning.
“The reason for doing it is to give potential students more choice,” she says.
“There are some students who maybe get results late, or maybe they’re doing resits—it could be the timing of their degree and how it’s structured in their home country. Not all students are ready to join in September, so that’s why we introduced it.”
But it’s not a case of offering an identical degree in January—students who start at the beginning of the year will experience significant changes to the course itself.
While students would normally start their September degree with eight taught modules before breaking for the summer, a January start offers students the chance to break up their modules over the year—four in the spring and four in the autumn, with a chance to write their dissertation in between.
“What this gives students is a bit of time to draw breath,” Kathy explains, “rather than go hurtling through all eight taught modules, which doesn’t work for everyone.”
Students on all MSc programs at Aston Business School also benefit from their Professional Development Program (PDP), an additional module that focuses on leadership skills, team building, and presentation skills, among others.
Students on the revamped MSc programs in January will experience the same PDP scheme as students who start in September, including the opportunity to study abroad.
The school is also offering a practical way for students to apply their business acumen while learning. In January, Aston will start their business clinic, a way for students to consult for real SMEs around the Birmingham area. The project is all part of an initiative to make business learning more practical at Aston.
“We’re trying to position the MSc degrees so that they’re one-third doing business and two-thirds learning about business,” Kathy explains.
“What we want to do is give students the opportunity to do real business.”
Postgraduate students who participate in the business clinic will be trained in consultancy skills, and through collaboration with academics will provide solutions to local business problems.
The business clinic opens its doors in January, meaning January starters at Aston Business School will be the first to experience this innovative way of applying their learning to the real world.
Kathy hopes that her idea will help students in the future who want a different way of learning—and they’ll be rolling out January starts to more programs in the future if it's successful.
“Sometimes we presume that the way we’ve always done things is the right way, and it’s not necessarily,” she remarks. “What we’re doing is acknowledging that students learn in different ways and at different paces.”