Students from around the world will come to the University of Bath’s School of Management in June for its innovative doctorate programme which aims to equip graduates with the specialist skills needed to manage higher education and meet increasing global demand for professionals with academic experience.

Bath’s unique Doctor of Business Administration in Higher Education Management – DBA (HEM) has been running since 2001, drawing in professionals attracted by its dedicated focus on how to run a university, by its multinational character, and by its effective alumni and support networks.

“Higher education worldwide increasingly demands leadership with very high levels of management expertise and insights into academia. Our unique course is focused on nurturing those additional skills in people who already bring considerable talent and experience,” said Dr Jack Lee, the Director of Studies of the programme.

Students have pursued research topics that include managing the tension between maintaining academic standards and the commercial imperative, promoting lifelong learning in Switzerland, creating a funding model for higher education in Jamaica, and managing cloud computing systems in universities.

“The variety of research generated by the participants and the subsequent career paths of our students and alumni are quite remarkable – last year, for example, Kenneth Matengu was appointed as Namibia’s youngest-ever university vice chancellor. Another alum, Jose Restrepo, recently became Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism after his term as the President of Universidad del Rosario,” Lee said.

For Mathias Falkenstein, Chief Executive at Higher Education Management Group in Berlin, and a graduate of the DBA (HEM) in 2017, the course offered a unique formula:

“There are not many programmes for professionals that deliver what the DBA (HEM) delivers – a professional DBA from a highly reputable university that stands for academia, for academic excellence, and provides the anchor that is ICHEM (International Centre for Higher Education Management),” he said.

Falkenstein said an unexpected boon was the course’s multinational make-up, which meant he was able to benefit from sharing the knowledge and experience of his course peers around the world, and then becoming part of a large and well-connected alumni group of education management specialists.

“Having a DBA in higher education management that brings together a group with that experience was very enriching. That’s a huge asset – it would have been very different if this had been a predominantly UK programme but, having fellow students looking through different lenses was hugely important and a real quality factor of the programme,” he said.

Falkenstein observed that the higher education market was changing radically, with an increasing demand for professionals with academic experience and background.

“Most higher education managers hit a glass ceiling – if you don’t have a PhD or similar but want to continue to progress you need to have an academic credential. If not, you miss part of what your institution is about – academia – and you will never understand the mindset of academics. That’s something Bath could deliver – access to very good academics who could provide a lot of insight and time. It’s a highly academic institution,” he said.

To enrol in the program, students must have three years of experience in senior management in higher education. Typically, attendees are mid- and senior-level managers, leaders from governmental ministries, and senior managers from organisations with a higher education brief, such as the British Council, European Association for International Education, and national quality assurance agencies.

Around 15 attendees are expected at the research planning event at Bath University on June 24-26, coming from as far afield as South Africa for the second phase of the doctoral programme.

The course starts in November each year, and the deadline for applications for the 2019 intake is 24 September.

The course was originally developed by Professor Richard Mawditt, who understood the growing demand from students for a dedicated doctoral degree in higher education management, and UNESCO’s goals on higher education. It launched in May 2001.