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Global educational event answer to protectionism and closed borders

21 Nov 2017

The Dean of the University of Sydney Business School has urged governments and tertiary institutions not to allow global education to be affected by mounting threats to the free flow of ideas, barriers to the movement of people and growing protectionism.

Professor Greg Whitwell was speaking ahead of the arrival in Sydney of students, academics and corporate sponsors for the first CEMS Graduation Ceremony to be held outside of Europe.

The Graduation is thought to be the most significant education related event ever held in Australia.

CEMS, founded 29 years ago, is now a unique global alliance of business schools accredited to deliver a “globally integrated” Master’s In International Management (MIM) Program. The University of Sydney Business School is the only CEMS member in Australia.

More than 1,100 students from over 60 countries will graduate this year. They range from Octave Hirwa, a refugee from the Rwandan genocide to Silvia Cocciolillo who grew up in a village not far from Florence, is now graduating from the CEMS program at Dublin’s UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School after having also spent a semester in Sydney.

Each graduate from the elite, internationally oriented program is expected to have a working knowledge of at least three languages and has studied in a country other than their own.

Most follow an international path to success. Nearly a 100 per cent of CEMS alumni are employed or are continuing their studies; nearly 50 per cent are living outside of their homeland and 75 per cent work for multinational companies.

Amid concerns of renewed political support for protectionism and closed borders particularly in Europe and the United States, Professor Whitwell, described CEMS graduates as truly “global citizens with the skills and the commitment to lead in an uncertain world”.

"CEMS graduates are the embodiment of what a divided world needs most: a generation of culturally diverse students who have a sense of unity, who celebrate the insights and innovations that diversity can offer,” said Professor Whitwell who was last year appointed deputy chair of the Alliance.

“While it seems like the world is running to towards protectionism, members of the CEMS Global Alliance are more committed than ever to our vision of preparing responsible leaders to contribute to a more open, sustainable and inclusive world,” added CEMS’ Executive Director Roland Siegers.

“It's for this reason, that we are proud to welcome our first African & Middle Eastern partner, the American University in Cairo, into the Alliance this year,” he added.

Professor Whitwell believes that the decision to hold the 2017 CEMS graduation in Sydney reflects the University of Sydney Business School’s reputation for cutting edge learning and teaching. He also sees it as a demonstration of CEMS truly global nature.

CEMS is supported by more than 70 local, regional and multinational corporate partners “committed to ensuring that students can be globally mobile and able to take part in the business projects that are a defining characteristic of the CEMS program”.

The program at the University of Sydney Business School, which enrols about 75 CEMS students each year, is supported by, Hilti and Deloitte.

Multinational technology consultancy ABB is the leading sponsor of the Sydney event. The key note address at the graduation, to be held at Sydney International Conference Centre on Monday 27th November, will be given by Deloitte’s Australian CEO, Cindy Hook.

Corporate partners will also take part in the CEMS Asia Pacific Forum which coincides with the graduation.

“Many of our CEMS’ students who study here develop an interest in our part of the world,” explained Professor Whitwell. “The Forum is designed to give these students an opportunity to connect with corporate representatives and to learn about careers paths in the region.”

CEMS corporate partners recognise that graduates from the program “are future-ready and ready to lead in an effective, inclusive and socially-responsible way,” says the Business School’s Professor John Shields, who chairs the CEMS Academic Committee.

“Every graduate has advanced business knowledge and the deep qualities needed to succeed in a tomorrow’s volatile, uncertain world,” Professor Shields said. “They have emotional intelligence, agility, resilience and have a passion to make a positive difference. This is why they are heavily sought-after by leading businesses.”

Professor Whitwell, who describes the CEMS program as “the jewel in the Business School’s crown”, concludes that the Alliance is a "source of consolation for those despairing of a world riven division and threatened by new international barriers".

"The very words 'global alliance' highlight the fact that in CEMS we have an example of institutions from diverse locations and diverse cultures who are committed to working together, to sharing, to learning from each other," he says.