1 Funeral Services Master Business Administration (FUSEMBA) Progress Report Public Part
2 Project information Project acronym: Project title: Project number: Sub-programme or KA: Project website: FUSEMBA Funeral Services Master Business Administration LLP ES-ERASMUS-ECUE Cooperation between Universities and Enterprises Reporting period: From 01/10/2007 To 30/09/2009 Report version: 1 Date of preparation: 30/09/2008 Beneficiary organisation: Serveis Funeraris de Barcelona, SA Project coordinator: Josep Anton Diaz Project coordinator organisation: Serveis Funeraris de Barcelona, SA Project coordinator telephone number: Project coordinator address: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
3 Executive Summary Funeral companies across Europe, in particular Small and Mid-Size companies (SMEs), are facing enormous challenges because of the liberalisation of the market, changing legislation, and socio-cultural changes. FUSEMBA: Funeral Services Master Business Administration (FUSEMBA) is a project aimed to make a new generation of managers in the funeral service sector more market-skilled and business-oriented, with a pan-european view on norms and quality, to address these challenges. This Report summarizes FUSEMBA s actions during the first 12 months of the project. Targeted readers include the Lifelong Learning Programme: Erasmus - Jean Monnet, Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive, the project partners and the general public. FUSEMBA is characterised by the promotion of modernisation and innovation in funeral companies by providing advanced vocational training to managers using the blended learning approach (on-line and face-to-face learning) in 5 different European countries: Spain, France, Italy, Germany, UK. FUSEMBA s objectives are to incorporate the most modern techniques in management, marketing and communication in the European funeral sector; to help channel creativity and unify criterions (legislation, quality, competency ) in training among funeral companies; and, to develop an 800-hour Funeral Services MBA starting October 2008 and ending June Key Target Users of FUSEMBA include: Learners, professionals and consultants in the field; SMEs; the European Federation of Funeral Services (EFFS) and National Associations; policy makers; other stakeholders in the media and industry; and, the real beneficiaries of this project - European families in need of standardized, quality services. FUSEMBA s partnership includes 4 funeral companies in Spain, Italy, France and Germany, one university in Spain, plus the participation of one silent partner in the UK. The partners combine funeral service expertise with expertise in e learning and MBA course design and delivery. The key approaches used in FUSEMBA involve the close enterprise and university cooperation to ensure a demand-based design and development of the MBA, and the supply-based participation of the partners and the MBA co-sponsor, the EFFS and its network, for support and all promotion. FUSEMBA s major results achieved to date include the methodology of enterprise-university cooperation; the multilingual webpage, taking advantage of RSS feeds, blogging and podcasting; the Master Work Plan for the on-line and face-to-face MBA, plus the first two e- learning Modules: Business Management and Company Finance; and, Commercial Marketing and Distribution; 5 Mid-term Work Package Reports; 3 project partner meetings and participation in a range of national and international conferences and trade fairs; over international audiences (potential students, funeral companies, stakeholders) reached via its Dissemination and Exploitation actions in the press, podcasts, seminars, conferences, trade fairs, workshops; and, ongoing lobbying in relevant EC DGs. Inn the second half of the project, FUSEMBA will finalize the on-line Modules and their integration in the MBA on-line environment; reach out to relevant EC projects and forums for the exchanges of experiences and good practices; produce and disseminate Success Stories experiences, which can help the promotion of the MBA beyond the lifetime of the project; evaluate feedback on all MBA aspects, incorporating improvements; hold 2 more project partner meetings; maintain its lobbying activities via the EFFS to affect EC legislation; and prepare and deliver on time all Work Package and Project Management documents for FUSEMBA s Final Reports.
4 Table of Contents 1. PROJECT OBJECTIVES PROJECT APPROACH PROJECT OUTCOMES & RESULTS PARTNERSHIPS PLANS FOR THE FUTURE CONTRIBUTION TO EU POLICIES EXTRA HEADING/SECTION...
5 1. Project Objectives As stated above, the objectives of FUSEMBA are to: Incorporate the most modern techniques in management, marketing and communication in the European funeral sector; Help to channel creativity and unify criterions in training (about legislation, quality, competency, among others) among funeral companies; Develop an 800-hour Funeral Services Master Business Administration, combining face-to-face training with on-line approaches, for the education and training of specialists in funeral services that starts October 1, 2008 and ends June 30, Sponsors for the MBA are the Institute for Lifelong Learning University of Barcelona and the European Federation of Funeral Services (EFFS). The benefits of FUSEMBA can be seen in a variety of communities of users: First, students in the MBA will benefit from: Increased knowledge on management in a competitive environment; Learning to analyze the economic environment to detect and evaluate the influence of changes; Applying accounting techniques to analyze accounting methods and cycles, annual accounts, results, solvency analysis, generation of monetary flows, cost control and calculation, and break-even points; Integrating financial techniques to obtain funding; Gaining expertise in current marketing policies and strategies; Learning to integrate managerial and commercial tools; Incorporating human resource management tools in a modernising enterprise; Contextualising the specific characteristics of each country inside the legal and quality frameworks of the EU; Elaborating a competitive and modern Business Plan. Second, FUSEMBA Consortium members and its UK partner, along with participating authors, teachers and tutors will: Gain close-up knowledge and practical experience on the latest techniques and methods for operating competitive funeral companies; Improve their institutional Human Resources through the sharing of Good Practices and the formal and informal learning opportunities offered in the project; Improve their respective professional reputations and widen their networks through national and international awareness-raising and dissemination activities. Third, European Stakeholders (EU and others national public institutions) will benefit from: The project s international cooperation to move towards improving a much-needed standardization of service in the sector throughout the EU; The added opportunities for promoting Vocational Education and Training in other sectors to become more closely related to a higher education level. In sum, the benefits will return to the funeral companies and national associations themselves given that, as the graduated students incorporate new management techniques
6 that make services and quality improve, the funeral service sector across Europe will improve in its competitiveness and quality, which, in turn, will address the needs of the real beneficiaries of this project - European families who are in need of standardized, quality services in the funeral sector.
7 2. Project Approach The FUSEMBA project approach is two-folded: on the one hand, it is based on the funeral company partners active participation in national and international networks, like the EFFS, so as to keep up-to-date on the funeral service market needs and opportunities; and, on the other hand, it is based on these companies close collaboration with the Institute for Lifelong Learning University of Barcelona, for expertise on e-learning and course design for the joint creation and promotion of this unique MBA, the first of its kind in the European domain. This close enterprise and university cooperation helps to ensure a) the demand-based design and development of the MBA; and, b) the supply-based participation of the partners and the MBA co-sponsor, the EFFS and its network, for support and wide-ranging promotion. The added value of this approach is seen in many ways: First, it promotes a European vision of the funeral sector. Students, by way of working on-line through the Forum and getting training in 5 different EU countries will share their experiences and knowledge and have to start thinking as members of a European company. Hence, the Business Plan, which each student must complete and defend before the MBA tribunal, requires working as member of a team, a trans-national team. The development of the Business Plan is the opportunity for each future manger to exchange knowledge, strengthen his/her respective network and build opinion about the future of the sector. These plans, and all MBA work, will also be enriched by the participation of European experts and sector stakeholders at roundtables and conferences in each of the five participating countries, helping the MBA participants to gain a European-wide perspective on all topics and challenges. Second, this MBA tries to help improve the way the funeral businesses are run, in actual practice, across Europe. Throughout the programme, students will have the chance to apply new ideas and know-how to deal with the demands that the liberalisation of the sector and competition is presenting. The MBA will help small and medium-sized funeral companies, rooted to a municipality or a region, to incorporate new business administration techniques, deepen contacts with other European partners, and broaden business minds in order to promote a European vision in funeral service management. This includes having to deal with legislation that, sometimes, impedes the growth of small and medium size companies and having to recognize that a new approach is needed, one that presses for changes in legislation at a European-wide level. Thus the MBA can enable a greater consolidation of European funeral companies knowledge of such legislation and help set the bases for cooperative approaches to improve the normative base in Europe. Third, FUSEMBA s methodology helps to reinforce the idea of Europe through education and training exchanges and international cooperation. Highly cooperative, in essence, the methodology combines on-line and face-to-face learning for exchanging information, good practices, new ideas, and research. It also open to way for a greater convergence of teaching methods, as different teams of experts shall have to follow a single study programme, one that stresses both practice and theory while ensuring personalized attention for each student. Last, FUSEMBA helps break down cultural taboos and institutional barriers. Funeral companies, especially small, family-run businesses, have been traditionally rather closed as regards sharing business information with other companies and non-funeral service institutions. Up to now, they have also not developed a systematic approach towards universities to get higher education and training consultation to help them deal with the challenges facing themselves and their sector. At the same time, higher education institutions likewise have steered clear from the topic of funeral service management, partly
8 because of its Vocational Education and Training connotations, and partly due to the subject matter dealing with death. The FUSEMBA project provides a European-wide service in this respect. It unifies university and enterprise criteria for higher education and training and exposes the members of these different cultures to common needs for good information, quality services and timely support mechanisms to help families deal with the trauma and after-shocks of death. The evaluation strategy, approach and results expected are described in continuation: FUSEMBA project will apply both internal and external evaluation tools with the aim of ensuring that the processes and products maintain the highest possible quality. These include questionnaires and analysis on the design of the MBA, peer review of all partners work, student feedback on the on-line and face-to-face sessions, content and teaching staff, and opinions from members of the EFFS. Based on this feedback, improvements will be made by the project partners and the MBA director. The results will be shown in the Project Final Report and in the various Work Package Final Reports. Non-confidential results will be published and made available on the project website, showing students and EFFS feedback, which can serve as a stimulus, a marketing tool, for the recruitment of new students. It should be noted here that although the actual delivery of the MBA, and therefore the tasks of getting and analyzing student feedback is outside the project s funding, such feedback is nevertheless linked to the quality of the final design of the MBA, which is open for improvement during the lifetime of the financed project. FUSEMBA s dissemination and exploitation strategies and main activities are directed towards the post-ec funding sustainability of the project s results. On the one hand, FUSEMBA s Dissemination is focused on providing information about the project, in particular the MBA offers, to potential students, the EFFS membership and national associations, and to other key stakeholders in the funeral sector; on the other hand, Exploitation is focused on a) convincing future managers and SME funeral companies to join or support the EC-sponsored creation of the MBA programme now and beyond the project lifetime; b) making this international MBA a successful, attractive option for sponsorship, public-company financing and scholarship opportunities; and, c) reaching and influencing relevant decision-makers in national and EC domains about the much-needed modernization of the sector across Europe. The main methods used include: Promoting the MBA offer for both and the classes in press, on the internet and in face-to-face meetings with funeral companies, potential students and sponsors; Making available throughout Europe and beyond all project and MBA information, including leaflets and the MBA promotional information, in English, Spanish, German, Italian and French the languages of the FUSEMBA Consortium and its UK partner; Maximising the use of ICT (podcasts, RSS, blogs) for attracting, engaging and informing audiences via the project website; Carrying out high-level roundtables with experts, potential sponsors, stakeholders and trade journal representatives; Designing the high-level international Tribunal to assess the Business Plans created by the MBA participants; Informing and inviting all EFFS members, national funeral associations and relevant EC authorities to get involved in FUSEMBA and the MBA, taking advantage of
9 international meetings, trade fairs and conferences to create opinion, generate interest and seek new ways of building on the project s results; Extending promotion of the MBA outside the European Union, taking advantage of new technologies for communication and the use of the project s core languages to attract audiences from the rest of Europe, Australia, Japan and other countries in Asia, plus North and South America and Africa; Offering project recommendations to relevant decision-makers based on the project s results and experiences; Publishing and promoting a public version of these recommendations, inviting feedback that can help create a wider community of interested users of the project s results and the MBA.
10 3. Project Outcomes & Results As many readers will know, European Commission-sponsored projects are normally broken down into Work Packages (WPs), where the roles, responsibilities, tasks by each partner and results are set for the achievement of project goals. The major achievements and results of this reporting period, October September 2008, are shown below, WP by WP. WP 1 Management: the leader is Serveis Funeraris de Barcelona, SA (SFBSA) In order to achieve Project Management objectives, SFBSA has developed a set of management and communication tools (templates, reporting guidelines, Minutes, glossary of terms, administration and financial problem-solving procedures, and partner contact list) in order ensure good university-funeral company communications on all aspects of the project. It has so far led three Project Meetings, in Paris (November 2007), Münnerstadt (February 2008), and Bologna (May 2008) and has also participated in the EACEA Project Coordinators meeting in Brussels, February 2008, where it gained useful knowledge on the latest issues regarding project management, in particular Dissemination and Exploitation actions. SFBSA has worked closely with the other partners to ensure the webpage is up-to-date, with translations in all partner languages about the project, its activities and the MBA offer. It has led the development of the project Consortium Agreement, the solution on Intellectual Property Rights, and the incorporation of the UK partner institution, the British Institute of Embalmers, with the support and consensus of all. WP 2 Direction and Design of Contents: the eader is the Institute for Lifelong Learning University of Barcelona (IL3-UB) IL3-UB has developed the Master Work Plan, the conceptual, instructional and graphic design for the FUSEMBA MBA. This includes the training action (work plan, objectives, calendar, multimedia contributions, evaluation system and tutorial system) of the 800-hours MBA, including the definition of the online training of 400 hours developed in 4 different modules and the structure and organization of 5 face-to-face sessions. FUSEMBA not only includes extensive online teaching and tutoring, but also uses innovative communication technologies to enhance the education and training experience and help prepare specialists in the field of funeral services to meet the challenges of an evolving European-wide market. MBA Course Description: The following describes the percentage of time per study stage in the MBA, including the indicative description for the face-to-face sessions in each country. STAGE APPROXIMATE LENGTH (IN HOURS) ONLINE 360 HOURS (45%) ON SITE 240 HOURS (30%) BUSINESS GAME 80 HOURS (10%) DISSERTATION 120 HOURS (15%) 80 online and 40 in situ ON SITE 1 on site study week in each of the five countries. Monday to Saturday, 8 hours - Total = 8 x 6 x 5 = 240 hours 4 classroom hours in the morning 4 practical hours in the afternoon
11 One on site study week at IL3 (40 hours, Monday to Friday, 8 hours per day), blending face-to-face inputs, tutorials, presentations, open discussions and the closing event. The following describes the Modules and structure of the MBA in the Management of Funeral Services MODULE TITLE STRUCTURE 1 STRATEGY AND ECONOMICS IN FUNERAL SERVICE FIRMS 2 COMMERCIAL DISTRIBUTION, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION 3 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND MANAGEMENT SKILLS 4 SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FUNERAL SECTOR 100 HOURS ONLINE 30 HOURS IN SITU 80 HOURS ONLINE 30 HOURS IN SITU 120 HOURS ONLINE 60 HOURS ONLINE 180 HOURS IN SITU 5 BUSINESS GAME 80 HOURS ONLINE 6 DISSERTATION (BUSINESS PLAN) 80 HOURS ONLINE 40 HOURS IN SITU As regards Staff, IL3-UB has selected teachers and authors for FUSEMBA education and training, with others still to be incorporated. Working together, IL3-UB and SFBSA have developed the plan and logistics for Week One of the practical session in Barcelona in October IL3-UB has also produced the Report on Work Package 2, which includes a more detailed description of the above. WP3 Creation of On-Line Materials: the leader is the Institute for Lifelong Learning University of Barcelona (IL3-UB) IL3-UB is in the process of finalizing two of the four on-line Modules, Business Management and Company Finance, and Commercial Marketing and Distribution. The other two modules on Human Resource Management and Specific Features of the Funeral Sector are also being developed following the project calendar. IL3-UB has also prepared the technical requirements, the on-line methodology, the author s guide for on-line content creation; it has reached accord on the Intellectual Property Rights for all institutions and teachers involved; and, it has integrated the first on-line module via the project website. IL3-UB has also produced the Report on Work Package 3, which includes a more detailed description of these results. WP 4 Dissemination: the leader is French Confederation for Funeral Services Professionals (CPFM) CPFM has developed the Dissemination Plan with all partners, which determines the working parameters and approach for the successful dissemination of the project and its results in each partner country and to EU stakeholders and wider audiences. The aim is to motivate not only current users, Institutions or individuals, but also to support the development and delivery of the MBA course and its future. Key results here include the multilingual website, with RSS feeds and blogging information, the promotional leaflet and various MBA Promotional releases in the media in each country. CPFM has produced the Report on Work Package 4, which includes a more detailed description of these results.
12 A screen shot of the website follows (the address is WP 5 Exploitation: the leader is Italian National Federation of Funeral Directors (FeNIOF) FeNIOF has developed the Exploitation Plan, which aims to attract and engage audiences in the partner countries and across the EU, with a view towards the future multiplication and mainstreaming of the project s results. The plan describes FUSEMBA s efforts to convince other funeral companies and national and international funeral associations, that the training and the quality of FUSEMBA s MBA is valuable, unique and capable of growth. It also points the way ahead for applying its innovative methods and enterprise-university approach for other sectors across Europe, especially for higher education training in vocational occupations. The plan also involves the partners lobbying, via the EFFS, relevant EC DGs on legislation affecting the funeral service sector, including health and environmental issues. FeNIOF has produced the Report on Work Package 5, which includes a more detailed description of these results. WP 6 Quality and Evaluation Plan: leader is Bundesverband Deutscher Bestatter e.v. (BDBEV) BDBEV, which has supervised the development of the project website, has led the development of the Quality and Evaluation Plan. This Plan describes the project s approach and concrete steps for ensuring quality across the board: from the project s administrative and managerial work processes to all aspects of FUSEMBA s education and training offer. The Plan includes procedures for reporting, quality control and review of all work, including checklists and corrective actions. BDBEV, working closely with Project Management, has also made available a set of useful administration information to all partners (Minutes of Project meetings, contact list, Work Package templates, and questionnaires). BDBEV has produced the Report on Work Package 6, which includes a more detailed description of these results. For more information about FUSEMBA project, the partnership and the MBA, go to FUSEMBA at For more information about FUSEMBA project, contact Project Coordinator, Josep Anton Diaz (SFBSA), at
13 4. Partnerships The added value of FUSEMBA s multi-country partnership in carrying out the project can be seen in many aspects. First, there is the unifying usage of a common language, English, in the partnership, to develop the project and develop the MBA, where English is the international language channelling the liberalisation of the marketplace and the way competition is being played out. Not only is the building and sharing of knowledge and experience between Funeral Companies in 5 different EU countries, with English as the common language, helping to improve each partners talents in communication, management and marketing, it is also helping them to unify their collective abilities to drive modernization in the sector. Second, there is the variety of richness in know-how and knowledge derived from the partnership s diversity within, both technically and geographically. Indeed, the funeral sector and how businesses run varies greatly country to country. As a result, to carry out the project and design the face-to-face sessions in the MBA, FUSEMBA partners assigned themselves subjects according to each partner s speciality. This distribution of study topics can enable students to gain a deeper, European-wide perspective on modern management techniques for funeral companies. It can also help these companies, and others that support FUSEMBA, to harmonize criteria for quality and customer service. This can help open up channels so that all other national associations and European stakeholders in the sector can understand, in greater detail, the European-wide marketplace and opportunities for developing win-win cooperation and business ventures. Third, there is added value in the pivotal involvement of the funeral companies themselves as partners in larger bodies (the EFFS and National Associations). This enables them to forge solid relations with social partners in the media and sector stakeholders and, in some cases, public administrations, which can help underpin FUSEMBA s actions now and in the future. Fourth, the experience of multiple enterprises and the university working together in European partnership opens up a variety of opportunities. For IL3-UB, this means creating provision of advanced level vocational training having the recognition of an MBA based on smart, specific funeral company inputs. This unique MBA offer allows the university to link it to its other higher education offers in the fields of health, pharmacy, and culture and society. For the private sector partners, the experience of this partnership is strengthening private sector awareness of the roles and responsibilities of the European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme, its expectations, goals and direction. The benefits of partnerships with groups outside the Consortium and its UK partner for FUSEMBA s main audiences can be found in: The consolidation of a strong, forward-looking approach for the funeral sector by the main target users like MBA candidates, funeral companies, and stakeholders to manage the changes and challenges having an impact on the sector; The cooperation with larger bodies: whereas previously, the partners operated in a segmented fashion in different working groups in the EFFS such as the Committee of Cemeteries and Cremation Working Committee, Committee of International Transportation and others inside the EFFS, now they are operating as a consolidated force, which can help create critical mass of opinion, new network-based actions and solutions, and more effective lobbying in front of relevant EC policy makers.
14 5. Plans for the Future FUSEMBA s plans to carry out the remaining work from October 1,2008 till September 30, 2009 are summarized below: In Work Package 1, Project Management (SFBSA) will organize and report on the remaining project meetings in France and Barcelona, and the logistical preparations for the MBA in the UK. It will oversee all website, project and MBA promotion, and, working closely with IL3-UB and the other partners, lead the MBA s inaugural face-to-face week-long session in Barcelona and contribute to the other face-to-face MBA sessions. SFBSA will maintain close communications with all partners to ensure that all training materials and project results achieve the highest possible quality, all project administration and financial issues are correctly managed and, that the FUSEMBA Project Final Report is accurately prepared and delivered on time. It will liaise with relevant EC representatives on project issues; lead the partnerships actions in front of the EFFS, the co-sponsor for this MBA and chief actor for lobbying in front of the European Commission; and, reach out to relevant EC projects and forums for the exchanges of experiences and good practices and discussions about possible future initiatives. In Work Package 2, IL3-UB will finalize the design of online content for the MBA. It will also finalize the design of the face-to-face sessions in each partner country, including the UK, and ensure that this information is well-publicized on the project webpage and provided to all partners to help boost dissemination and exploitation actions. It will improve, where needed, the MBA based on the feedback about the quality of the teachers, tutors, on-line environment, content, face-to-face sessions and visits and roundtables. This information will be included in the final Work Package Report and serve to improve the next MBA promotion, In Work Package 3, IL3-UB will complete the development of all on-line modules and multimedia support and carry out the necessary quality and technical pilot tests to integrate these resources successfully in the MBA on-line environment. It will work with partners to develop and administer feedback questionnaires on these materials and the on-line environment with a view towards introducing improvements. This work, and other development actions, will be summarized in this Work Package s Final Report. In Work Package 4, CPFM will continue to lead the production and dissemination of FUSEMBA s activities and results to wider audiences. It will also work with partners to provide additional multimedia resources and media feeds to promote the project and the MBA on the project website. It will continue the collection of all partner country s activities in the media, plus stakeholder and potential sponsor information, and consolidate this in the Work Package s Final Report. In Work Package 5, FeNIOF will liaise with partners to develop Roundtables with stakeholders, media leaders, potential sponsors and experts in the funeral sector during each of the face-to-face MBA sessions in Spain, France, Italy, Germany and the UK. As previously stated, the objectives of these Roundtables are so that a) MBA students can benefit from the extra exposure to latest trends, opinions, marketing opportunities and network possibilities, and b) FUSEMBA representatives can make the case for project and MBA sustainability, including policy impact. FeNIOF will also take the lead in developing Success Stories, for posting on the project website. In tandem with all partners, it will lead the development of a high-level international Tribunal to assess the Business Plans created by the MBA participants. Though technically outside the lifetime of the project (June 2010), the general planning will take shape during the second half of the project.
15 FeNIOF will finalize the mapping of FUSEMBA s learning outcomes against international Funeral Service standards and related education and training offers. This mapping will be included in the Final Report, together with the compilation of the results of the partnership s activities in transferring the project s results to appropriate decision-makers and FUSEMBA s recommendations. In Work Package 6, BDBEV will continue the collection and analysis of project-related feedback through questionnaires, interviews and peer reviews of the project s final results, including the quality of all Work Packages. BDBEV will also lead the quality control over the MBA, with a view towards introducing improvements for subsequent promotions, beginning , by: Collecting and analyzing the academic evaluation of MBA students progress (attendance included). Conducting evaluation of all other MBA aspects, such as the quality of the teachers, tutors, on-line environment, content, face-to-face sessions and visits and roundtables. It will summarize these activities and results for inclusion in the Work Package s Final Report.
16 6. Contribution to EU policies The FUSEMBA project is contributing to advances being made in the Lifelong Learning Programme and to work being done on Lisbon Key Competences, in particular Entrepreneurship. As regards the Lisbon Key Competences, FUSEMBA is incorporating the most modern techniques in management, marketing and communication in the European funeral domain, helping to enable participants (graduates as well as non-graduates of university who have demonstrated equivalent experience in the field) to gain the necessary business management skills in order to improve the way funeral business are run. Offering an advanced training program in funeral services, FUSEMBA is contributing to the partners and participants entrepreneurial know-how and skills base so that they can manage the liberalisation of the sector, deal with new developments in legislation and adapt to cultural, societal changes across Europe. In this way, FUSEMBA addresses the Specific Objective of the Lifelong Learning Program, which is based on promoting creativity, competitiveness, employability and the growth of an entrepreneurial spirit. Indeed, FUSEMBA is a practical example of this. The MBA serves as a resource for building lifelong learning skills not only for those in the funeral service business, but also for those teachers/experts in the field. It focuses on strengthening the links between academia and jobs and on promoting business inputs into academic course design and content development. FUSEMBA also addresses the Operational and Specific Objectives of the Lifelong Learning Programme, which is to improve the quality and to increase the volume of cooperation between higher education and Institutions and enterprises. FUSEMBA is based on the enterprise-academic cooperation between IL3-UB and funeral companies in 5 different EU countries (including UK). The high quality MBA design and development processes and products derive from the university s long experience in developing and delivering advanced training programmes, face-to-face and on-line. The quality and volume of cooperation derive from the many different inputs from international funeral service experts. Furthermore, the project offers a model for university-enterprise cooperation: that is, FUSEMBA can be a source for future initiatives, a starting point for new exchanges and cooperation between higher education institutions and enterprises, for the development of higher education and vocational training programs for other EU-wide sectors with similar training needs. Finally, FUSEMBA addresses one of the Lifelong Learning Programme s 2007 priorities, which is to transfer innovations from vocational education training (VET) to the academic domain of higher education (HE) and vice-versa. FUSEMBA is creating innovative vocational training solutions based on higher education standards. As funeral companies are transferring to the University their experiences to set up and promote the project and the MBA, the University is contributing its on-line methodological and resource development and deployment expertise to enable part-time students across Europe in the funeral service sector to work together, following a calendar that does not obstruct their daily jobs.
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