Academia: The Secret Behind Loughborough University Programmes

Loughborough University is one of UK’s leading universities and commands an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. The university is also a member of the esteemed 1994 Group which is a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities and is well known for the relevance of its work. The strength of a university is often positively correlated with the dedication and calibre of its academia.

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Our hypothesis is affirmed when it was made known that Loughborough was the only university to win The Times Higher Education ‘Best Student Experience’ Poll six times running from 2006 to 2011!  We must hear straight from the horse’s mouth on their secret to delivering outstanding student experience year after year.

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At one of PSB Academy’s preview, I had the privilege to meet Mr Ian Herbert, the incoming Director of the Loughborough Degree Programmes. He shared some of his thoughts with regards to the University and the strength of its academia. 

Ian Herbert LU

1. Can you share more about Loughborough University?

Loughborough University is strong, confident and growing. We are proud both of our traditions and our values for high quality work, ‘real-world’ research and teaching. Loughborough consistently tops the polls of UK universities for student satisfaction and enjoys an enviable record for student employability.

The School of Business has a long standing relationship with PSB Academy and we are very proud of our growing student alumni in Singapore, many of whom hold important positions in a wide variety of organisations.

As the incoming Director of the Loughborough degree programmes, it gives me great pleasure to build on a programme that is relevant to the needs of people of all ages as they seek to start their business or careers. Employability is a key theme of the programme and this is demonstrated in the record of students improving their careers through study.

2. What are the university expectations of its academic staffs?

For a business school, the faculty is its greatest asset. All tutors are expected to be amongst the leaders in their chosen field of research AND to provide a stimulating educational experience.

Our students can expect tutors to bring into the classroom their experiences from the world of organisations and to make these relevant to particular topics in the syllabus. The world is changing very quickly and even the most ‘up to date’ text book is out of date by the time a class starts.

3. What are some of the skills and knowledge that you try to impart as a lecturer to students?

Students tend to expect that a university degree is a continuation of college education. Whilst, it does indeed build on prior learning, it is also very different. Instead, of just learning how to apply knowledge and techniques, at Loughborough University we encourage students to think, to challenge each situation and to suggest new solutions.

Stepping outside the comfort zone may not be for everyone, but if you want to stand ahead of the crowd in tomorrow’s business world, creative problem solving and the ability to both explain and persuade is vital. Good education is about getting the right blend across to our students.

4. Aside from academic results, what are expected from students?

Loughborough seeks to provide learning for life. In other words, not just to learn today’s knowledge but to learn to think differently as a result of the programme and develop the habit of learning independently.

Successful managers are those who can act on new problems, analyse them, seek out other relevant knowledge, formulate a range of solutions and then evaluate what is the best option. Developing those instincts along with the appropriate knowledge and techniques is what distinguishes a good degree from an average one.

5. Were you always a lecturer? If not, what was your profession before you went into teaching and what was the reason for the switch?

In ‘my days’, secondary schools in the United Kingdom were very academic and not so relevant to business. I was in a hurry to get out and get on. I became a qualified accountant before I was 21 and this enabled me to enjoy exciting career in a lot of different industries.

However, I was still drawn to academic study and I eventually put the career ‘on hold’ and enrolled for a full-time MBA at Nottingham University, another one of PSB Academy’s top United Kingdom education partners. It was a one-year, full-time programme but I found that rather than just getting through in the fastest possible time, I preferred to slow down and enjoy studying things at a more leisurely pace, making connections with the workplace as I studied.

To support myself and my family, I secured a position as a lecturer and I enjoyed that too. Looking back, that was 20 years ago, but I am fortunate that my research into shared service centres and outsourcing enables me to see the leading edge of global business developments from inside many of the famous multi-national corporations.

6. How were your previous work experiences relevant to students? 

My previous commercial experience is invaluable in the classroom.

I am especially thankful for the time I spent working in or advising smaller companies where I was able to see across the whole organisation. So often people are experts in just a small part of the system and have trouble appreciating the structure and linkages within the whole. I have also had the opportunity to work with some great people.

The best people tend to be the ones that are good at asking the right questions. Of course, some people are good at generating solutions, however, sometimes they may be offering a great solution, but to the wrong question.

Asking the right question is the value of critical thinking and that is what I always strive to inculcate in my students.

Having great academic staffs also does wonders to their graduates’ employability!

A closer look at The Graduate Market Research 2013 revealed that Loughborough University has improved their ranking from 14th place last year to the 13th position in 2013 as one of the top 15 universities targeted by the largest number of top employers. That’s being in the same league as Oxford and even beating the popular London School of Economics!

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Let’s now hear from Sanjay, a proud alumnus of Loughborough University Degree Program.


He graduated with 2nd Class Honours in August 2008 and is currently working as an Assistant Manager in a Compliance Department with a United Kingdom Bank for 7 years. Similar to my brother’s path, his highest qualification before embarking on his degree program was Diploma in Business Administration from PSB Academy. He did a bridging course with his ITE Certificate in Business Studies (Accounting) and never looked back.

1. Why Loughborough University?

My motivation for higher education then was to propel myself into the elusive and lucrative banking sector and build my career from there. It actually boils down to just accessibility when it comes to deciding on PSB Academy. Located just next to Tiong Bahru MRT Station, it was just a quick 15 minutes away from my workplace at Raffles Place.

The main reason for selecting Loughborough University over other PSB Academy’s partners was the presence of lecturers who were directly from the main university campus in United Kingdom. That offers me exposure to global perspectives and challenged me to think out of the box which enhanced my competitiveness against local degree holders.

What were the challenges faced during the program and what did you do to overcome them? 

The esteemed exposure was also my main challenge during the program. Each module comprises of intensive 2 weeks period where all UK lecturers are flown in to PSB Academy campus to deliver their lessons. With two modules in each semester, the hectic schedule made it often impossible to plan ahead. I often had to make sacrifices and cut down on my personal social time with friends and relatives.

Whenever I am pressured or felt like giving up, I would draw strength from some of my classmates. There was a lady in my class who was already in her final trimester of pregnancy yet she still attended all her classes that semester. Among others, there was also a 60 years old classmate, newly married couples and employees with irregular work hours. If they can do it, as a single individual with no other commitments I should have absolutely no excuses.

To further ease off expectations, it is important to let key people around you know that you are on a degree program. My direct superior was supportive of my decision to further my studies. I was able to leave on time after work for classes and apply for study and examination leave. Family, relatives and friends also play a big part with keeping my drive up.

Some send SMSes and small cards of encouragement when they found that I was studying till the wee hours of the morning. Some whom have gone through such a similar experience even share their “secrets” on how to cope with work and study.

It still warms my heart remembering all these kind gestures.

How was the support from your lecturers and administration staff ?

I remembered that most of my lecturers were clear in their delivery and highly motivated when it comes to sharing their work experiences. During my second year, a local lecturer for Corporate Finance module even initiated extra lessons to ensure that all his students grasp the financial concepts.

Student support officers are often the unsung behind the scene heroes. One particular student support officer however deserved to be mentioned. There was once I was down with food poisoning and could not submit a particular project personally hence a fellow school mate submitted on my behalf. The student support officer actually took the additional effort to email me an indemnity form to notify the examiner of my health conditions during the project work.

While it might not have led to leniency by the examiner, I was still pleasantly surprised by the support.

Did the program help fulfil your objectives?

Yes definitely. Without my degree qualifications from Loughborough University, it would be difficult for me to penetrate into the banking section. Skills and knowledge acquired from the course were highly relevant and gave me an edge when it comes to on-job performance.

Since attaining my qualification in August 2008, I am given greater responsibility with a good remuneration package. My direct superior acknowledges the value of my degree and the additional values it brings to the organization.

It would be harder for me to advance to a management position without the necessary supporting qualifications. With a recognised degree from Loughborough University, I believe I have effectively broken my invisible hierarchy ceiling.

I hope to take on the role of an Assistant Vice President in the near future. Wish me luck!

So Are You Ready To Take On Loughborough University?

If you are keen to find out more about Loughborough University’s degree programme at PSB Academy, here are the admission requirements for your reference:

– PSB Academy Diploma with average B-grade OR

– PSB Academy Advanced Diploma with average B/C-grade OR

– Diploma from a local Polytechnic or Professional Institution with average B/C-grade OR

– GCE A-Levels with average B/C-grade

Fret not if you do not meet the admission requirement, the University will access each applicant on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested to apply, please click here.

4 Comments on this Post

  1. YingYing

    The top employers is local or London employers?

  2. Stephanie

    Didn’t know PSB has such established courses… surprised

  3. Joan&Derrick

    Anyone who say that education qualification does not necessarily play a part when it comes to corporate success is bullshit …

  4. Mr Bar-ry

    Good to know there’s always alternatives for kids who do not make it to local institutions.


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