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Kent Business School aims to break into UK top 20 after unveiling £29m new home at University of Kent in Canterbury

By Trevor Sturgess

Nothing less than a place in the nation’s top 20 will satisfy the ambitious head of the 25-year-old Kent Business School.

Just a year into the job, Professor Martin Meyer has revealed plans for a new £29m building that will bring together his school and the University of Kent’s school of mathematics on the Canterbury campus.

He believes the 8,000sqm facility will help him achieve his goal.

The new £29m building that will bring together Kent Business School and the University of Kent's school of mathematics

Despite tougher UK immigration rules KBS is seeing a steep rise in applicant numbers.

Some 1,600 undergraduates and 300 postgraduates are studying at campuses in Canterbury and Chatham Historic Dockyard. More will be accommodated when the new building is ready.

It will offer new teaching, academic, student and social space, coupled with the latest IT facilities, including a live trading room linked to Bloomberg to give students real-time trading information.

But a top 20 place is a tough ask. KBS is already in the top 30 and competes with more than 130 other UK business schools, some among the best in the world.

Prof Meyer said: “I want a school which has a greater international reputation, is more outward-looking, is not just looking at profits but is making a contribution to business and beyond.

“I want a school that is passionate about engaging with business and adding value to the student experience.”

Kent Business School head Professor Martin Meyer

Employability is a key target, especially at a time of high graduate unemployment. The school already reaches out to employers, arranging free business clinics and placing more than 100 talented students with firms.

Some 90% of the placement students achieve a First or 2:1, with 80% offered a job in their placement company.

The school already works closely with prominent Kent employers, including Saga, Shepherd Neame, Rochester Cathedral and Chapel Down.

Business schools are sometimes regarded as cash cows by its parent university but Prof Meyer has local and global reach uppermost in his mind.

The 40-year-old believes his German background – he grew up in Dortmund – gives him a sense of discipline, order, structure, as well as a will to succeed.

The new £29m building that will bring together Kent Business School and the University of Kent's school of mathematics

He left Germany to be an exchange student in Sweden before moving in 1996 to the University of Sussex, Brighton, as a doctoral student. He later headed its School of Business Management and Economics. He now lives in Canterbury with his wife, who teaches English as a foreign language.

He speaks with a gentle German accent but is now firmly Anglophile, happy to quote Basil Fawlty’s memorable line: “Don’t mention the war!”

“We are keen to contribute beyond business,” he said. “We want to be relevant to business but to recognise it does not exist in isolation.

“We want to make a contribution to society and for our students to be aware of that, to be responsible business practitioners and leaders.”

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