Europe-Australia collaboration on new MBA program

Published 31 August 2012

A unique partnership between two Australian and two European universities will establish an MBA (Master of Business Administration) program producing graduates with international perspectives on the social and environmental impacts of business activities.

Led by the University of New England, NSW, and ESC Rennes School of Business in France, the MBA International Social Entrepreneurship program is being developed with funding from the Australian Government and the European Union.

The two other universities involved are the University of Western Sydney and – in Spain – the Open University of Catalonia.

“Increasingly, higher education institutions around the globe need to collaborate in the development of shared courseware and internationalised curricula to help graduates develop the skills required for working in international situations,” said Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions. “This project aims to achieve this objective in an area of high relevance to the business sector.”

“While the program will be taught in English, the students will experience a variety of social, cultural and business environments,” said Professor Alison Sheridan, Head of the UNE Business School. “They will emerge from the program as leaders able to use global business skills to address key social issues such as poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, the integration of excluded groups, and access to education and health services.”

Delivery of the four-semester program will be a blend of face-to-face and online teaching, and all students will spend time in each of the three countries – Spain, France and Australia. The program will support their travel and accommodation.

Professor Sheridan explained that an established relationship between UNE and the Open University of Catalonia had been the catalyst for the initiative. “We were exploring options for collaboration,” she said. “We identified an opportunity capitalising on UNE’s expertise in international business and the Open University of Catalonia’s expertise in social entrepreneurship, and then sought the complementary expertise of the University of Western Sydney (with which UNE has a partnership in the delivery of distance education) and ESC Rennes.

“An important dimension of the program is its blend of online and face-to-face teaching, and both UNE and the Open University of Catalonia have distinguished reputations in distance education.

“It’s all about relationships. Each of our four institutions will make a distinctive contribution to the program.”

With funding totalling $730,000, development of the program will continue into 2013 and teaching is expected to begin in January 2014.