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Choose an International Master’s Degree in Greece

In the midst of the recession, many prospective students in Greece wish to enrich their curriculum vitae by adding to it a postgraduate degree. For this reason, they choose universities abroad, since these provide an international degree. Nevertheless, there is a large number of Greek and international students who choose not to compromise, and instead, opt for an internationally recognized degree near them: it is in Thessaloniki that we can find our first and only Greek, state, English speaking university in our country, the International Hellenic University.

The International Hellenic University, operating in our city since 2008, in state of the art facilities, is unique of its kind in Greece: the teaching of courses on its programmes – which charge tuition fees ̶ is conducted exclusively in English. It comprises three Schools, the School of Economics, Business Administration and Legal Studies, the School of Humanities and the School of Science and Technology. In total, it offers 19 programmes of postgraduate studies, thus creating a new model of a Greek public university, one with standards comparable to universities abroad, regarding its education and organisation.

Since the beginning of the new academic year, 400 students have enrolled, aged 20 to 50, coming from several places in Greece, but also from abroad; the professors themselves have come from top universities in the country and abroad. This is one of the characteristics that make the university truly international.

One of the most interesting postgraduate programmes of the University, attracting to Thessaloniki a diversity of students from all over Greece and abroad, a special programme with a special structure, is the Executive MBA. It is a postgraduate programme focusing on cutting-edge subjects, designed for executives and entrepreneurs and self-employed persons. The programme of studies has the advantage that it is completed in 16, three-day cycles, from Friday to Sunday, once a month, in a total of 24 months.

Its first and especially important advantage is the acquisition of a degree of international level in Greece. Andromaxi Avramopoulou, the owner of a private language school of English in Edessa, a student of the postgraduate programme, could not leave Greece and live abroad in order to attend a postgraduate programme due to her work: she found the solution with the Executive MBA. As she states: “I have already completed a postgraduate programme in the UK, and, in my opinion, my current postgraduate programme does not fall below at any level, it is equal to those abroad, it feels like actually being there. It is a university far different than the average Greek university; its standards are truly European, if not international. It is very organized, with lots of activities besides its principal curriculum and I consider it a university aiming at constant improvement. Its organisation and its academic staff are truly remarkable, as they are all devoted to their work, aiming at excellence.”

parallaxi enisa denisa
(photo by parallaxi)

Enisa Lusha, an executive working at the Hygeia Hospital in Tirana, chose this postgraduate course, as she was interested in a programme recognized not only in her country, but also internationally: “I knew people that had studied here and had highly praised the university. Furthermore, it is situated in Greece, where I can travel to easily, and I know the language and the location, since I studied and lived here for 16 years. I had conducted research for postgraduate studies in London and Italy, but in the UK the cost was considerably higher, and between Italy and Greece, I prefer Greece as a country, in general.”

Due to its particular characteristic of offering courses for three days each month, the postgraduate programme is ideal for executives working within a very tight schedule. Denisa Karasani, who is an executive working for Credit Agricole of Albania and enrolled on the Executive MBA, notes: “I studied Business Management in Tirana and since then I have been working in the banking sector; it is very convenient for my schedule to attend this postgraduate programme, since I only need to be here once a month. Moreover, Albanian universities are not as recognized as the International Hellenic University.”

The structure of the programme also attracted Chronis, who works for Heineken, and Christos, who works as a general manager in a food company in Athens, because the programme is structured in a way that makes it easy for busy professionals to attend.

And as the MBA is targeted at business executives, an important part of the programme is to provide practical knowledge; this interests the majority of students, offering them the tools for more efficient work.

As Andromachi mentions, “I believe that entrepreneurship is linked to most professions and, in my opinion, it is inconceivable for business owners, whatever their business might be, to lack managerial knowledge and knowledge of the economic market and reality. This was the main reason I chose this program, and the second is that the economic situation is unstable and I always keep an eye on other things connected to entrepreneurship. This MBA helps towards this direction. I already apply this practical knowledge in my own business as there are many opportunities to make use of knowledge learned in your own business. Since starting the MBA I have learnt and applied financial management and cash flow.”

Constantina, an executive working for the National Bank of Greece adds: “The Programme really helped me in terms of negotiating, employment behavior, team-working and also at understanding business profiles and how to behave as well as how to interpret the financial data of a company. All these were immediately applicable in my work.”

parallaxi all three
(photo by parallaxi)

As Enisa also stresses: “I wanted to study for a postgraduate degree that would help me in the managerial and financial fields, and here at IHU we have classes based on real case studies in terms of management, administration and organization which is really helpful for my work. What we learn is practical and easy to apply. Our professors are among the best judging from our previous experience, excellent at knowledge transfer and they do not cling only to theory. They have successful careers and are also well-known abroad. We learn a lot, which helps our work and I think that we would be much better equipped after finishing the programme and applying all the acquired knowledge.”

The level of academic staff, with distinguished academic professors, mainly from universities and business schools from abroad but also Greece, is what attracted Christos and Chronis. Christos points out, “no matter what level you are at in your business, you clearly gain a lot when you are taught by people of a high level. I notice that I have immensely improved in negotiating at a high level, and especially in English with international partners which is definitely due to this interaction in the classroom and the projects done so far. The submission of a business project every month, as all the coursework is actually a business project, and all the interaction in English has offered a great deal to my work.Nikos, who is head of the sales department in a food company says that the fact that classes are taught in English is important for many students: “What attracted me to choose the specific programme was that classes were taught exclusively in English, and that you also earn a degree title which is both in Greek and English and this is important. On the one hand, you do not need to go into lengthy procedures needed to have your degree recognized by the Hellenic National Academic Recognition and Information Center, “DOATAP” (the Greek authority responsible) and on the other hand, you practice your English at a business level which could be beneficial to you later on.”

Besides, as Chronis adds: “I believe that everybody is afraid of losing their jobs and an MBA recognized by the State, which at the same time is taught in English, is an important asset. It is a degree that expands your horizons and your options”, and Enisa says: “The Executive MBA is also recognized abroad and as we are always in search of something better and you never know what could happen, it will certainly be of help if we choose to move abroad.”

Our country is going through a difficult period and this was something that Christos took into account before starting the programme in January 2015: “We are now seven years into a recession and probably, as things stand, we may continue to be and so in my mind I am open to the idea of moving abroad. This is the reason that I chose an international program and not a conventional one. A programme in a Greek university, taught in Greek, would not necessarily provide me with this interaction with international colleagues and professors which is also an advantage.”

What made the greatest impact on the students is the special character of the International University, because they are excited with the fact that it operates in the same way as universities abroad. Maria who works for the National Bank of Greece points out: “I was impressed by the fact that it is a Greek State university with a strong British influence on organization, and I believe that this is unique for Greece.” As Chronis adds: “You enter into a public university with a private character. I could have chosen to study in another public university but that would have had many drawbacks as far as organization is concerned.”

parallaxi lib
(photo by parallaxi)

Dimitris, a Greek who has worked for the past 15 years as a banking consultant in London and every month travels from England to Greece and back for the Executive MBA, points out: “I do this for the competences, skills, qualities and the value for money. The fees are low considering the quality of studies. In Greek terms, it is one of the top MBAs, possibly the best. In comparison to other international MBA programmes I believe that it corresponds with international standards regarding the course content. With regard to its structure, academic staff and courses, it is comparable to the best international universities. The fundamental difference is that the specific programme is both International and Greek.”

And of course, the human factor could not be missing from the recipe, as Greece, in general, and Thessaloniki, in particular, constitutes a special attraction of the programme for students.

For Nikos, Christos and Constantina what made the difference was the variety of professional and academic backgrounds of their fellow students and teachers while Enisa says: “I have lived in Greece for sixteen years but I had never been to Thessaloniki. I came for the first time for the MBA and it is the complete opposite of Athens and I really liked it. I love Athens but Thessaloniki has something so unique that even from your very first visit you want to return, it probably has to do with the people, the environment, and the sea.”

For Dimitris, the Executive MBA provided the motivation to build: “a communication bridge with Greek reality, the Greek environment, and the Greek mentality to my advantage, to see if the pre-conditions to return exist, in order to start my own business or to work in the private or public sector. I think that through meeting my fellow students I learnt about Greek reality in- depth. I realized the difference between reality and imagination. I believe that during the fifteen years I was abroad I lived in a fantasy world and in the last ten months here in Greece I have entered the phase of realism.”

What stands out for him? “The people, the professors, the environment, the culture, the climate are the reasons that make me happy for choosing this MBA programme.”

You can read the original text, in Greek, at the following link: http://bit.ly/1PiCmJ2

Please click here to view the speakers' presentations

The Law Faculty of Heidelberg University is holding on 6 November 2015 an academic memorial event in memory of Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Othmar Jauernig, one of the most important German Law Professors.

Prof. Dr. em. Athanassios G. Kaissis, Member of the Governing Board of the International Hellenic University (IHU), Scientific Director of the Legal Studies at IHU and Corresponding Fellow of the Institute for Foreign Law, International Law, Comparative Law, Conflicts of Law and International Business Law of the University of Heidelberg, is invited as speaker in order to honor Prof. Jauernig’s profound impact to the development of Law both in Germany and internationally. He will present the contribution of Prof. Jauernig in Civil Procedural Law (“Das zivilprozessuale Werk Othmar Jauernigs”).

For further information please see the programme of the memorial event (in German).

 

 

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