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University of Wolverhampton Business School

80 Years

of Business Education

Welco As the Business School celebrates 80 years of business education and management development being offered by the University of Wolverhampton and its predecessor institutions, I am delighted to be able to share with you the history of our metamorphosis into the organisation that we are today. I hope you find our story interesting and the achievements of our staff and students inspiring. I believe this is a Business School of which the region can be truly proud. Dr Anthea Gregory Dean


80 years of business education in Wolverhampton and the Black Country Universities have their origins which date back centuries but the majority of the world’s universities are new, formed since 1945 and many even more recently. Wolverhampton is one of these, awarded university status in 1992. But its history is longer and so is its teaching of subjects that have evolved to make up the portfolio of a modern business school. The story of how these strands came together to create the University of Wolverhampton Business School reflects the impact of our location on the edge of the Black Country, which was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. Industrialisation came early to Britain but the idea that business and management might be worthy of university teaching and investigation came late. Although part of Britain’s industrial core, the Black Country was a region of small workshops and firms in which local businessmen had only a limited interest in education. For them, workers best gained the skills they needed on the job, through apprenticeships.

The 20th Century By the start of the 20th Century things were beginning to change. The manufacture of tools, hollowware (metal bowls, containers, teapots), japanning (a form of lacquer work) was giving way to engineering, cycle production and even the first automobiles. New industries meant a demand for new skills. Change was also happening nationally and an education act in 1902 gave local authorities more powers to encourage and plan ‘technical education’. It was in this context that, just before the First World War, Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College, from which the University would eventually emerge, was formed. The new College, supervised by the two local councils, which subsequently joined with the South Staffordshire College of Commerce, was a regional centre for commercial education in the north-west of the Birmingham conurbation. In the 1930s Wolverhampton was regarded as ‘a rising industrial town’. The buildings which form the historic core of the modern university, in the very centre of Wolverhampton, were opened in 1931. It is here that we find the first systematic teaching of ‘commerce’ and some of the subjects that today form the basis of a modern business school portfolio, such as accountancy. However the depression, and then war, held back growth but after 1945 expansion became more sustained and economic growth seemed to be the norm. A more sophisticated economy needed a more sophisticated workforce and the value of education started to be recognised. Higher education would no longer benefit only a small group of the privileged elite. As it was to become available more widely new institutions would be needed. The bigger technical colleges, of which Wolverhampton was one, provided the basis for this expansion and polytechnics were formed at the end of the 1960s. The new polytechnics showed themselves to be dynamic institutions, expanding by opening their doors to new groups of students in order to educate them in a wider range of subjects than was available in traditional universities – business was one of these subjects. During the 1960s Wolverhampton became one of the first institutions in the UK to offer an MBA. MBAs had been established in the US to develop advanced management skills and professionalise the practice of managers. This philosophy was consistent with the values of Wolverhampton: to provide vocationally relevant education to contribute to the development of the region. Wolverhampton therefore worked with the University of Philadelphia to launch a flagship MBA in the UK – now offered by most UK business schools and is still offered by the University of Wolverhampton Business School, nearly 45 years on.

A new era The aim of the new institutions, among other things, was to provide high quality teaching and research. Students were proud of their degrees and staff proud of what they did. It was recognition of this pride and an acceptance of the quality of the provision in polytechnics that led the government to award them university status in 1992. The University of Wolverhampton emerged. In the next two decades the numbers entering higher education in Britain rose dramatically. Undergraduate provision was complemented by postgraduate and professional courses as well as research degrees leading to PhDs. It was during this time that the Business School took its current form, bringing together all business subjects under one umbrella. Wolverhampton continued to be at the forefront of business education developments. In the early 1990s it was only the second institution in the UK to offer a Masters programme in Human Resource Development and became one of the founding partners in the University Forum for Human Resource Development. The School was amongst the first to offer postgraduate programmes in coaching and mentoring and an undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship – a legacy still in evidence today with the School priding itself on developing entrepreneurial graduates.

A central location In 2010 the Business School moved from its Compton Park and Telford Campus sites to its new location on City Campus in the centre of Wolverhampton. Its role is firmly based in the region, contributing to the enhancement of the skill base of Wolverhampton and the Black Country, but extends to bringing together students, teachers and researchers from across the world. The School continues to make its mark. It leads other UK business schools in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs); a scheme where the School works with companies to enhance their operations and competitiveness; and has gained much recognition for the success of its collaborations. A KTP which brought together 19 West Midlands manufacturing companies in the Advanced Business Development Network to improve competitiveness, led to more than ÂŁ200k worth of new business for the network. The project was recognised in 2010 at the Lord Stafford Awards by taking the Cisco Prize for New Technologies.

Staff excellence Business-relevant research is also a feature of the School’s excellence. Achieving the highest rating in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise of all new universities in the region, the relevance of its research to business and society has been recognised in numerous ways. • Dr Graham Tate was awarded a John Oldacre Foundation grant in 2010 to research the financial viability of using sources of bioenergy in the West Midlands. • Dr Yong Wang was awarded a prestigious international grant by Ernst and Young in 2011 to research into family business. • Jenni Jones received a Special Recognition Award from the British Association for Women in Policing in 2011 for designing a mentoring scheme based on her personal research. The staff of the Business School continue to advise at the very highest levels. • Dr Mark Cook has worked with the Welsh Assembly to advise on foreign direct investment. • Prof Roger Seifert has provided evidence to the relevant Minister and group of Parliamentarians on the future of the Land Registry; police force mergers; the future of the Culture sector; the proposed changes to police pay (written evidence on the latter to the Winsor review); and on Scottish police force mergers.

Student success Students of the School have similarly been recognised for their achievements. In 2010, Jeremy Bridgman was presented with the Worldwide Top Student and Hays Marketing Recruitment Award by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), after preparing for his professional examinations at the Business School, for gaining the highest mark on the Managing Corporate Reputation paper, globally. Recent graduates have been recognised for their entrepreneurial potential. Waqas Baggia and Shaun Gurmin were named as Future 100 Young Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2009 and 2010 respectively. This entrepreneurial spirit is fostered during students’ studies. Annually, students test their entrepreneurial and innovation skills by planning and executing new ways to raise funds for a range of local charities, which in 2011 saw charities benefit to the tune of £20k.

Alumni to be proud of Graduates of the School have gone on to make significant contributions to business, academia and society. For example alumni of the Business School have gone on to: lead one of the big four accountancy firms; present TV programmes; become CEOs and directors of national and international public and private sector organisations; work as ambassadors and patrons for charitable organisations; and even become world-leading professors.

Professional collaboration The professional links of the School continue to be one of its core strengths. As one of the largest providers of Chartered Institute of Personal and Development (CIPD) qualifications in the country, many of the region’s HR professionals have been trained at the School. Its work with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) has not only allowed accountants the opportunity to prepare for their qualifying examinations, but graduates from accounting programmes graduate with the maximum possible exemptions from CIMA and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) professional accountancy bodies. This work is replicated with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), the Chartered Management Institute (CMI); where students graduating from management programmes also achieve CMI awards; and the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). A recent collaboration with the Institute of Directors (IoD) has resulted in regional directors mentoring students in their final year, so when they graduate they have a better understanding of the workings of business and what is required to succeed in their management careers.

The 21st Century will no doubt bring with it as much change as the previous one. However, as at the beginning of the University, business will continue to be at the centre of what it does in the future.


University of Wolverhampton Business School MN Building City Campus North Wolverhampton WV1 1AD

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University of Wolverhampton Business School: 80 Years of Business Education  

A look back on the 80 years the Business School has provided business education and management development.