Strengthening a footprint in Europe in the post-Brexit era

International partnerships are increasingly important for business schools. - they improve institutional performance, create opportunities, extend reach, and enhance the experience and career prospects for our students.

Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Vilnius University Business School (VUBS) - a new partnership that will see LUMS establish its first ‘Research, Engagement and Delivery (RED) centre’ on the Lithuanian campus. This will be a branded base that will provide a platform for collaboration, allowing both business schools to promote and explore joint research, engagement and teaching opportunities. The RED centre is a first for us, but forms part of our ambition to ensure Lancaster University Management School is recognised in all corners of the world; supporting research that influences practice, promoting engagement with local and global communities, and extending the reach of our blended programmes to students across the globe.

Our new working relationship with VUBS adds to LUMS’ existing portfolio of partnerships. We have established, and continue to deliver a range of innovative and diverse degrees in overseas locations including Sunway University (Malaysia), Beijing Jiaotong University (China) and most recently, the campus in Leipzig, Germany. There are currently some 3,300 students engaged with LUMS degrees at our international partner institutions. Developing and scaling our international activities remains a key area of focus for us as an ambitious and globally engaged business school. Although LUMS is always seeking to innovate and refine its international experience, collaboration with our international partners will remain a vital element of our strategy - and will continue to shape LUMS in the future.

Located in the capital city and with around 22,000 students, by size and ranking, Vilnius University (VU) is the foremost university in Lithuania. Founded in 1579, it is among the oldest and most distinguished higher education establishments within Eastern and Central Europe. Vilnius Business School (VUBS) was fully integrated within Vilnius University in 2016, having initially been established in 1989.

In a post-Brexit era, we remain committed to maintaining and strengthening LUMS’ footprint in Europe. The LUMS-VUBS partnership is evidence of that commitment and will bring numerous opportunities for both institutions to unite, share core principal values, and help meet civic and strategic objectives. VUBS currently has around 2000 students (UG: 1700, PG: 300) and has developed an especially strong reputation for entrepreneurship, where its MBA Entrepreneurship is unique in the Baltic States. Entrepreneurship is also an important area of focus and a real strength for LUMS. It is synergies like this that present an ideal opportunity for LUMS to leverage valuable expertise in shared areas of interest, such as family business, SMEs and regional development, to support VUBS, while strengthening its own research and engagement activities in a key location.

Research and engagement are at the heart of our international aspirations at Lancaster. As a research-driven management school, LUMS is wholly committed to producing research of international standard – indeed it is the capacity of LUMS to do so which places it in the global elite of business schools. New networking opportunities will be developed with public and private organisations and higher education entities in both Lithuania and the UK as a result of this new partnership. This will increase prospects to access EU research funding and give support to VUBS in responding to local governmental funding calls, predominantly in the area of entrepreneurship. We also anticipate the partnership will raise brand awareness of both institutions, increase diversity and broaden student access and experience.

Within both research and teaching, business schools are innovating and expanding on their digital provisions. The need to adopt digitalisation to maintain delivery has been expedited during the pandemic. The rapid move to digital will continue with many challenging, leveraging questions post-pandemic on how to accelerate developments in digital provisions. Digitalisation might also bring efficiencies and flexibility into international collaborations, thus reducing pressure on finances, staffing and the environment. Digitalisation will be a prominent feature during the initial phase of the LUMS-VUBS partnership, alongside the creation of the first RED centre.

Over the medium to long-term, we plan to maintain and scale existing activities via increased efficiency. We aim to develop an active research culture, student and staff exchange programs, executive education offerings, micro credentials and the provision of co-developed undergraduate and post-graduate programmes of study, building complementary curriculums for courses and student diversity.

There is no doubt that this project is both ambitious and inventive, and will carry both partners into new innovative and creative ways of working. It is a move that excites us and presents a great opportunity to establish and enhance the LUMS brand in a region of major politico-economic significance.

Professor Marwan Izzeldin is Associate Dean International at Lancaster University Management School