Fast track degree is the business

A new course offering Gloucestershire business people a fast track to a degree is proving a big success, as its latest graduates line up to receive their certificates in July.

The BA in Business & Enterprise, run by Gloucestershire Enterprise Ltd (GEL) in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University, is an innovative and flexible way to study for a degree in just 12 months – opening doors to those who missed out on university and want to hone their business skills.

Usually a degree takes three years, but this programme recognises previous practical business management experience, allowing students to go straight to the final year.  In just over three years, 80 have graduated through the GEL BA scheme which has proved very popular with business leaders.

“The BA in Business & Enterprise is a really innovative course, and it’s tailor-made for managers so they can fit in studying alongside their busy working lives,” said GEL spokeswoman Michaela Cozens.

“Most managers realise they need to develop themselves before they can develop their business. This degree gives them a greater understanding of business innovation, creativity and growth issues, and helps them learn from managers in other industries and sectors.”

The course is designed to help owners and managers develop their business knowledge, and offers practical strategies for them to apply their knowledge and improve their own businesses.  Students only attend Edinburgh Napier University once for an initial induction – then the course involves a day a month at GEL’s Training Centre in Gloucestershire and students are supported by additional study & resources online.

In just three years, company boss Dave Merrett has gone from having virtually no qualifications to gaining a master’s degree.

Dave, aged 53, managing director of heating services firm E.C. Merrett Ltd in Frampton-on-Severn, will receive his MSc along with the latest GEL graduates in Edinburgh on July 3rd. He is the first to complete an MSc under GEL’s new master’s programme through Edinburgh Napier University.

“My family are so proud of my achievement,” he said. “I left school at 16 with only a few qualifications, so getting a masters has been a real life changer. It’s given me a whole new side to my professional life and has really benefited the business.”

After school Dave joined the Army and then went into the family business founded by his father Bob in 1982. E.C Merrett now employs 25 and in 2012 won Business of the Year in the Stroud Life Business Awards.  The company also won Worcester Bosch National Installer of the Year.

He was among the first to enrol on GEL’s BA in Business and Enterprise course three years ago. “After running a business for so long I decided it was time I had some qualifications,” he said.

“The fact that my business experience allowed me to do a degree in just a year was really appealing,” he said. “The extra work isn’t too onerous if you’re prepared to put the time and effort into it, and the course’s flexibility meant I could easily fit in studying alongside running the business.

“Also the course is very practical and has actually helped me restructure the business. It makes you reflect on what you’ve learned and implement it in your business.” Dave was awarded his degree in 2012 and went on to study for GEL’s MSc in Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Taking the MSc has opened new doors for him – he is now involved with the Government’s Trailblazer National Apprenticeships standards forum, as well as becoming an apprenticeship ambassador for South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.

“I think it’s changed me personally,” he said. “It’s given me a lot more confidence, made me better equipped to improve my business and enabled all my staff to reach their full potential.”

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