Marion Debruyne

Celebrating the launch of our Online MBA with our Dean, Professor Marion Debruyne

Being driven is undoubtedly an asset, but it can leave you short on spare time. Taking time out to develop your business acumen and leadership skills through an MBA, requires time management when you have a raft of professional and personal responsibilities.

“The great feature about the online programme is the flexibility; you can combine it around your life.”

Maaike Van Craen, Online MBA participant.

However, there’s plenty to be gained from adding an MBA to your list of credentials, from reaching the upper echelons of your career path to formulating a strategy that could enable you set up your own enterprise.

Removing the need to study on campus and to a prescribed timetable can make an MBA far more accessible, which is exactly what we’ve done at Vlerick.

Hailing from the world over, our inaugural Online MBA cohort has just begun their programme, much to the pride and delight of our Dean, Professor Marion Debruyne. “Digital disruption is happening in education, and it’s very exciting,” she says.

An Online MBA programme with pedigree

Thanks to many years spent creating digital programmes, our first ever Online MBA is based on extensive specialist experience and a tried-and-tested approach.

“Our first digital programmes were tailor-made for the companies we were working with. We’ve also launched online programmes for emerging healthcare companies and to help businesses and individuals learn negotiating skills,” says Marion.

This time-honoured understanding of digital learning has enabled us to develop a rigorous methodology we know will deliver results. “It’s a mistake to think that you can just upload some PowerPoint slides from a lecture and that’s your online learning taken care of,” she explains. “You have to start by looking at what you want the learning outcomes to be, and then look at all the ways you can achieve those outcomes using digital approaches.”

“Our approach is all about putting learning into action and action into learning. Online learning presents you with many opportunities to bring participants into discussions, to get groups together to take part in tasks and challenges. And, our faculty are highly accessible online – either taking part in group discussions or meeting up on Skype with students for a “virtual” cup of coffee.”

Our faculty’s dedication to our participants doesn’t end there though; they undertake online learning programmes themselves to ensure they know exactly where further improvements can be made. “We’re all digital learners ourselves. It helps us to adapt our style to digital learning environments.”


A virtual learning environment that feels personal

This hands-on involvement has allowed us to build our Online MBA from a learner’s perspective, creating a friendly, intimate space for participants to connect and share ideas and critical thinking. Rather than creating another mass open online course (or MOOC), our approach to the Online MBA could be characterised as a ‘small private online course’ (or SPOC).

“We don’t believe in MOOCs,” says Marion. “Our programmes have small groups and tight-knit learning environments. It’s important for our learners to be able to form relationships with fellow participants and with their tutors and coaches.”

“For learners, it’s flexible and personal. You study when it is convenient for you. You participate in units when it’s convenient for you. You can study on the train on your way to work, or in a hotel room, or on the couch at home after your kids have gone to bed.

Accessible anywhere and anytime, participants can add personal elements to the Online MBA content for optimum relevancy too, incorporating real-world examples from their own professional lives and opting to focus on topics that motivate them. “You can easily select areas of study that are more relevant to you and personalise your experience,” adds Marion. “Each learner has their own tutor or coach – and they have opportunities, if they want to, to take part in study trips.”

Taking business education out of the classroom

As Marion explains, we believe there will always be a need for physical learning spaces – but that the need for flexible learning will continue to propel the rise of online education.

“We don’t really embrace the traditional classroom environment anyway,” she says. “Our learning spaces are multi-use. They’re about taking part, discussing and learning by doing. Online learning is an extension of this.”

As our first set of participants have proved, it’s now possible to unlock the benefits of our inspiring Online MBA without ever setting foot inside a classroom. Find out more about how this programme could enrich your career, by completing our form on the right.

Accreditations & rankings

  • Association of MBAs
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Financial Times