Ranked first for career impact in the BOSS list of best business schools, Canberra University caters for business students with a wide range of skill requirements and aspirations. Business school head Professor Lorne Cummings says the school constantly changes the structure of its post-graduate credentials to stay abreast of changing sector needs and advancing technology.
He believes that while artificial intelligence will change the nature of work, softer skills such as management and people skills will continue to be critical.
“We’re in the capital city, we’ve got the Commonwealth public service at our doorstep; defence, the public sector, the diplomatic community, they all require strategic thinking,” he says, adding the university was currently revising its MBA credentials to incorporate a stream on government business.
“We place a great emphasis on re-evaluating and constantly updating our materials because we’re in a very competitive landscape,” he adds, noting that each degree has a program director and a course advisory group consisting of representatives from various sectors of government, industry and business who provide input.
The business school has a range of post-graduate courses of different types and lengths including and students can enhance their theoretical understanding with practical experience gained during an internship. The school’s internship partners include PwC Australia, The Mill House, Questacon, the Custodian Financial Group and ActewAGL, and Cummings says business school students are often “snapped up” by the employers they have come to know in these placements.
About one-third of the post-graduate business students at the university are Australian. The business school also has a large cohort of international students from south Asia, and Cummings says there’s a substantial community of south Asian immigrants in the capital city.
Following Canberra, the Australian university business schools with the best prospects for post-graduate employment are the University of NSW, the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and Macquarie University, ranking fifth. The career impact ranking is based on publicly available data for full-time employment after graduation, salaries five years out, and annual salary gain.
For its part, Macquarie’s business school is focused on being “applied and engaged”, says business school head Professor Eric Knight. “Jobs and employability are very much our value proposition,” he adds. “We’re very close to industry, not to theory: our motto is to turn theory into practice.”
The school is positioned at the intersection of business and technology, he adds, and keenly observant of emerging business trends. A new master of commerce course in supply chain logistics will be launched next year to meet emerging industry needs and the school is particularly strong in quantitative analytics technology, Knight says.
He sees the rapid advances in artificial intelligence and computing, such as the game-changing recent arrival of computing tools such as ChatGPT, as an opportunity rather than a threat for business school graduates. Managers and executives, he points out, mostly ask programmers to solve certain problems. “We answer the higher order questions; the managers that sit above the codes,” he says. “It’s all about the human in the loop asking the right questions.”
Macquarie’s business school has doubled its research income in recent years, Knight says, and the university has substantial research commercialisation interest. He is determined to ensure pertinent themes of industry and business are woven into the school’s courses at all levels, with industry advisory boards continually assessing key courses and course clusters. And he expects all faculty members to run mock boards and committees and bring in guest speakers from industry and business.
Knight says he makes the case for Macquarie students with the major employers, making sure they know how valuable a practical understanding of business can be, and pushing the idea that practical experience is just as important as theoretical understanding.
“It’s the nature of the hiring pipelines into companies, in all kinds of ways they don’t hire the best person for the job,” he says, adding he thinks it is essential for all organisations to think more widely about talent and consider think more widely about talent and consider more diverse options.
Adelaide University’s business school is also one of the top ten institutions in the BOSS best business schools career impact category, ranking sixth. Head of school Professor Noel Lindsay says a sustained focus on agility and flexibility ensures business students stay abreast of business and technical trends and allows them to tailor a course that best suits their aims and interests.
The oldest business school in Australia and in one of the Group of Eight “sandstone” universities, the Adelaide University business school takes care to ensure graduates are both entrepreneurial and capable of making the most of technical developments. “The careers of today will be very different in ten, twenty, thirty years’ time,” Lindsay says. “We need to be agile and adaptable.”
Courses at Adelaide’s business school are taught in a discursive, seminar style format wherever possible, he adds, so students get experience in “sharing their logic and providing insight” to help solve problems. “When they complete their studies, they are accustomed to having both operational and strategic conversations,” he adds.
The experience readies the business school students for careers in senior positions: they are comfortable presenting and offering insightful analyses, the school has found. Employers, meanwhile, value employees who think entrepreneurially, Lindsay says, because they can help develop the business and devise innovative business methods, in both the private and public sectors.
The business school caters to a diverse range of students, Lindsay says, which at the post-graduate level provides students with an insight into different industries. Graduates go on to work for multinationals, particularly big resource firms and defence contractors, governments, and large family firms. Some start their own ventures. “Students can study entrepreneurship but they can also spend time in our business incubator Think Lab and graduate with a business as well as with a degree,” Lindsay says.
James Cook University, based in Townsville, also ranked in the top ten for career impact, coming equal eighth. The relatively small business school has a strong full-time cohort of post-graduate students, including a substantial number of international students, says head of school Professor Stephen Boyle adding the post-graduate students usually land a position when they are completing their internships.
“There’s a lot of demand up here in the north for people with those professional capabilities, such as project managers,” he says. “We are a significant university in a regional location, and we have very strong ties to the industries up here. There are real opportunities for people to be mentored by CEOs or managers.”
The university is compact: students get to know their professors and the professors get to know them, Boyle adds. Business school students can then add practical experience to the mix with internships, where they become known to employers and attract lucrative job offers. The business school has a suite of online post-graduate courses on offer, including an MBA Global, and students can choose to study on-line, or face-to-face, or choose a mixture of both.
The school attracts increasing numbers of international students, Boyle says, particularly from nations where people might be more accustomed to living in rural and remote districts. Students have come to the business school from Africa and South Asia, and even from exotic and largely unknown nations such as Bhutan. Most study an MBA in Townsville, or if they’re studying tourism they go to Cairns.