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Giving something back with the Management Development Programme

By Iain Mitchell - Posted on 1 May 2015

Iain Mitchell, Development Officer within the Widening Access team, discusses how the Management Development Programme helps students give something back to their local community.

Strathclyde Business School has developed a new initiative that allows students to develop their employability skills while playing a direct role in addressing social disadvantage and widening access to studying business at university level.  The Management Development Programme (MDP) runs in each of the first three years of the BA degree at Strathclyde Business School (SBS). During the third year of the MDP, students undertake a Social Responsibility element to their programme, run by the University’s Widening Access Team.  This is designed to raise students’ awareness of issues around social, economic and educational inequality and allows them to ‘give something back’ to the local community within which Strathclyde is situated.

In total, 310 SBS students took part in this element in 2014-15. Working with a range of external organisations including schools, local authorities and charities, students took part in 13 pathways, all looking to address some form of educational, social or economic disadvantage. These pathways provided students with the opportunity to undertake a range of roles and responsibilities including: project management, programme design, research and marketing while working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders in ‘real-world’ scenarios.

Several of these pathways were designed to increase the number of young people who progress to Higher Education from low progression schools, deprived neighbourhoods or care backgrounds. Many of these programmes had a focus on widening access to the University of Strathclyde and, in particular, the Business School. These Widening Access routes included one-to-one mentoring of senior pupils who aspire to study business at university, summer programmes for children in care and the design and management of a one-day on-campus event for senior school pupils from low progression schools in the West of Scotland.

This final programme, named ‘One Step Forward’,  was aimed at pupils who have expressed an interest in studying business at university and featured a range of interactive activities designed to raise awareness and aspiration to go on to Higher Education level study in this area. MDP students were responsible for designing and delivering the event, evaluating its impact and organising all recruitment and publicity. Students also successfully secured funding for the programme from PwC.

In addition to the 13 pathways, another group of MDP students were charged with evaluating the impact and success of the whole Social Responsibility programme and each individual pathway element. Their initial evaluation shows very positive results with regard to an increase in students’ awareness of social and educational inequality and the development of students’ employability skills, principally communication, organisation, leadership and team-working skills. A large majority of students also expressed a strong level of satisfaction that they could participate in work that had a positive impact on the life chances of those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In my role as a Development Officer within the University’s Widening Access team I coordinate the Social Responsibility pathways.  At the University we have always been aware of the impact that working on our Widening Access programmes has on students’ personal and professional development. We are glad we have contributed to this programme in a way that allows students to access valuable experiences and develop their employability skills while gaining accreditation for this work.

Do you think social responsibility should be a key trait of effective managers? Share your comments below.

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 sbs-adviser@strath.ac.uk 

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