Why business schools need to attract international students

The University of Sydney Business School has created the position of Academic Director, International, in an effort to advance its interests worldwide. John Shields who has taken up the position explains why an international cohort of students is essential for a well-rounded education.


“When you have cultural diversity, that’s when magic happens,” says John Shields. Shields, a professor of Human Resources Management and Organisational Studies, is the new Academic Director, International, at the University of Sydney Business School. His position will focus on partnerships with academic institutions, alumni relations and student recruitment.

In an interview with Ambitionet.com, Professor Shields emphasizes the importance of an international outlook for business schools. “My role is not unique,” he explains but essential for an Australian business school as the domestic market is small and Australia’s geographic position fairly isolated. But still: “Australia punches above its weight in terms of business education,” Shields believes. The country has a high proportion of students from China but Shields hopes to attract more students from the region – from India, the Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia.

Australia’s particular strength is that foreigners – mainly from the Middle East and Europe – view the country as a gateway to China according to Shields. Already 9,000 of the school’s 14,000 students are foreign students but the bulk comes from China. “For political and pedagogical reasons, we need diversity,” says Shields. “The exposure to multiple experiences is the key for developing global citizens and future ready students.”

In his new role, Shields will develop a suite of global partnerships and transform international alumni relationships to accentuate life-long learning. Shields’ appointment to the new role comes shortly after the launch of the school’s new international scholarship programme which is also designed to “enhance the cultural diversity of its undergraduate and postgraduate cohort”.

In its first year of operation, the school’s “Academic Ambassador” programme will see up to twelve academics seeking to build research and education relationships with counterparts abroad and working as brand ambassadors for student recruitment in target markets.