The growth in Islamic banking and finance has led to a steady increase in courses and qualifications that groom individuals to lend their knowledge and expertise. This has prompted institutions of learning across continents to forge relationships to draw upon their relative strengths and benefit in developing exciting courses.

The Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance (BIBF) in August signed an MoU with the University of Bolton in the UK to offer an MBA in Islamic Finance. Danish Khan spoke to Solveig Nicklos, Director, BIBF about the MoU and the general trend in the study of Islamic Finance.

  • What do you see as the reasons for the interest among students for Islamic finance?

Islamic Finance is the fastest growing segment within global financial markets. This has resulted in a clear shortage of skilled and qualified Islamic Finance professionals, and has stimulated interest from students. BIBF, with this MoU signed with the University of Bolton, will work on designing and developing one of the first MBA degrees in Islamic Finance in the world.  We are going to market it globally through the University of Bolton’s network, as they have satellite campuses in several countries around the world. However, we expect that most of the students will initially and extensively come from the MENA region, due to the large activity of Islamic Finance in this region.

  • What are the benefits of this MoU to the students, and the University of Bolton and BIBF?

Students will have access to the first MBA of its kind in Islamic Finance. With BIBF’s long history in terms of the quality of its outcomes and proficiency in meeting the requirements of the business sector, students will be offered an international degree of high standard that is accessible from the MENA region, and recognised and supervised, along with BIBF, by the UK-based University of Bolton. BIBF will be developing the Islamic Finance subjects while University of Bolton will cover the core MBA subjects of the programme. The MBA will, therefore, combine the strengths of University of Bolton’s long-standing MBA programme, with the knowledge and practical insights of BIBF’s Islamic Finance capabilities, and students will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

In addition to this, one of the major strategic goals of BIBF is to establish the Institute’s strong position as a Thought Leadership institution. Being involved in the development of this programme in terms of preparing its academic content, stresses the institute’s heritage in Islamic Finance, which goes back to 1997.

  • Front row: (left to right ) Baroness Morris of Bolton (University of Bolton, Chancellor) and Solveig Nicklos (BIBF, Director). Back row:  (left to right) Professor Mohamed Abdel-Haq (University of Bolton, Chairman of Centre for Islamic Finance), Hani Redha (BIBF, Head of Islamic Finance), Burhanu Deen Jayah (BIBF, Head of Accounting & Finance, Information Technology, and Research & Advisory).

    Front row: (left to right ) Baroness Morris of Bolton (University of Bolton, Chancellor) and Solveig Nicklos (BIBF, Director).
    Back row: (left to right) Professor Mohamed Abdel-Haq (University of Bolton, Chairman of Centre for Islamic Finance), Hani Redha (BIBF, Head of Islamic Finance), Burhanu Deen Jayah (BIBF, Head of Accounting & Finance, Information Technology, and Research & Advisory).

    What other partnerships do you have in UK, Europe and other places?

One of the key points of strength of BIBF is the wide partnerships at both professional and academic levels. BIBF is known for its wide range of courses that are designed and tailored to meet the immediate requirements of the local and regional labour market. Yet, it offers a huge range of professional qualifications with the most internationally recognised associations and institutions. BIBF continues to exceed global results in many of the qualifications it offers with its affiliates. On the academic level programmes, BIBF has been collaborating with some of the best-in-the-field universities as part of an international programme service, for around 12 years. We partner with Bangor University in the UK for undergraduate programmes and DePaul University in the US for graduate programmes. Students get access, from BIBF campus, to academic education in line with standards of international universities and upon completion of the programmes, qualifications that are recognised by these universities as well as the Higher Education Council of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

  • How do you see the future of Islamic Finance in UK and globally?

Islamic Finance has a promising future as one of the financial solutions now being introduced to the world of finance. However, the future growth and prospects of the industry hinge on the development of its human capital, and this leads to the importance of the MBA that we are launching. The UK is playing a growing role in the global Islamic Finance market and is benefiting from its partnerships with Bahrain by leveraging Bahrain’s rich heritage and leadership position in Islamic Finance. We expect this programme, which brings together the strengths of the UK and Bahrain, to grow rapidly, once launched. However, once started in Bahrain and the UK, the plan is to maximise its geographical scope by offering it in other countries within the network of the University of Bolton.