Giving students the best international education

John Oldale explains how Canada’s University of Victoria’s business school turned the search for a more international MBA into a new type of graduate programme.

In the early years of this century, the The Sardul S Gill Graduate School at the Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria in Canada was looking for ways to give its MBA students more opportunities to be exposed to the world of global business. Though there was no shortage of partner universities able and willing to offer international exchanges for students wishing to study abroad for a semester, the then dean, Dr Ali Dastmalchian, and other faculty members wanted more.

They drew upon research to design a new offering for students that envisaged a more integrated, comprehensive, cohort-based model where students from Victoria and other universities could work together much more closely, develop enhanced cross-cultural skills and learn first-hand how business is done in major global markets.

Victoria drafted an agreement with longtime partners Johannes Kepler University in Austria and National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan – both of whom had similar interests – to try something new.

Called the GMBA (Global MBA option) by Victoria and the ACT (Austria, Canada, Taiwan) programme by its two partners, this collaboration allowed groups of masters students from each university to study together as a cohort in all three countries, spending about six weeks at each university.

This worked well for several years. Interest in the model grew and the need for a larger and longer stand-alone programme became clear.

Building on the GMBA/ACT foundation, a flexible new arrangement was developed that would allow Victoria to offer a brand-new degree while giving its partners’ students access to additional spaces in a more comprehensive and robust tri-continent experience as part of their own masters degree programmes. This was the Master of Global Business (MGB) programme, launched in 2010.

The new programme brought together students from all three partner universities. The small class size and the cohort model ensure maximum engagement with cross-cultural learning opportunities.

All students spend approximately three months together, first in Victoria with an emphasis on studying Global Business Fundamentals. For the second module students move to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where the focus is on Global Business Opportunities. The third module is held in Linz, Austria, concentrating on Global Business in Action and culminating in major consulting engagements with multinational companies.

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