A new specialisation in emerging markets will be offered starting September 2015 to students enrolled in the business and economics bachelor’s programmes at Maastricht University.
The specialisation, aimed at current first-year students, involves additional coursework and an internship in the second and third year of the regular bachelor programmes.
Students who are selected to participate will be trained to look for market opportunities and develop operational business knowledge for emerging markets, but also to analyze these markets from economic and societal points of view.
The students will retain the core learning goals of the regular bachelor’s programmes in business or economics, but additional learning goals associated with the context of emerging markets will be added.
No other programme like it currently exists in the region. “This specialisation will be truly cutting edge,” says Wim Naudé, Special Chair in Business and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets, SBE.
“The traditional way in which many European-based business faculties have been teaching international business and economics do not always take into account how rapidly the global economy and business world have changed, and precisely what it means for consumer, investment and labor markets that the gravity of business and economics has shifted from Europe and the US to emerging economies.”
The specialisation requires students to take four newly developed courses specific to emerging markets in their second year, so the academic demand will be higher than that of the regular bachelors’ programme.
Careful selection process
The application process is rigorous, involving letters of motivation and interviews that will begin taking place in April and May. Kaj Thomsson, assistant professor of economics at SBE, who is in charge of the development of the programme, says they will be looking for “students who have a strong academic capacity, but who are also highly motivated, adventurous and particularly interested in these topics.”
They are also seeking students who are willing to put additional time into supporting the programme in a broader sense, in extracurricular activities—interacting with guest lecturers and organizing other events.
Many students have already expressed interest—more than 250 attended an information session last month. Naudé says this is because the topic will have an impact on everyone interested in business and economics.
“Even if you are not dealing directly in a business sense with these economies,” he says, “you are still going to be affected, because the direction global business is developing in, is impacting for instance on the number and types of jobs that are being created in Europe.
Both Thomsson and Naudé emphasize that while there is a target number of students who will be accepted to the programme, there is no fixed number. “We are thinking in terms of 50 students in the first year,” Thomsson says, “but we can easily see adjusting that in either direction. If we have only 30 strong applicants, we will go with 30 students. If there are more, we can take more.”
In their third year, students will be expected to complete an internship and produce a thesis based on their experience. “We are also able to partner with various organizations to offer internships in the emerging economies,” Naudé says. “This provides a wonderful and exciting opportunity for students—one that may give them the edge in their careers.”
According to Thomsson, students may also seek their own internship, assuming it meets the university’s requirements.
To start, the specialisation is focusing on Latin America and Asia, based in part on feedback from students that indicated these are the economies in which the students are most interested.
Future based on student input
According to Naudé, however, other economies will be included in the future. “We had to start somewhere, but we expect that, over the next 5 to 10 years, the linkages with Africa specifically will grow even stronger,” he says. “When there is enough interest from the students we are ready to make this possible.
Students have actually had a lot of input into how such a specialisation would operate. “I’ve tried as much as possible to talk to students to think about what their interests are,” Thomsson says. “We are also trying to use the application process to figure out students’ interests. The first year of the program is set and in place, but we’ve kept the third year a little more flexible for now so we can hear more from students.”
To learn more about the programme or the application process, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Kaj Thomsson on the UM Expert Guide.