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USC dean: “Internationalisation vital to economy”

A faculty head at the University of Southern California, one of America’s most internationalised universities, has said student mobility will play an important role in helping the global economy recover from crisis.

James Ellis, dean of USC's Marshall School of Business; Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at USC; and Olympic gold swimmer and former USC student Rebecca Soni

USC's new World Bachelors in Business will span universities in three countries

James Ellis, dean of the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, was participating in a USC symposium in London this week on the future of the global economy, with speakers including former British foreign secretary Jack Straw and the world’s foremost communications expert, Professor Manuel Castells.

Ellis told The PIE News that education would have a huge role to play in rebuilding trust among countries after the financial crash of 2008.

“We really need people that can communicate properly and there are some trust factors,” he said. “I think the more we educate and the more we talk to students about trust and ethics, our student population as they then grow into the leaders of tomorrow will certainly have an impact on the global economy – there’s not even a question.”

He said that the soft power potential of internationalisation was considerable as universities prepared students for the globalised job market. However, he said the US faced a stumbling block because of its immigration system.

“We’re training in America Chinese citizens who have come to us to go to school – but they only get one year and they have to go back,” he said, expressing disappointment at the recent defeat of the STEM Jobs Act.

“The more that we bring overseas students into the culture, and they understand the culture not just educationally but work wise, the better they are going to be as suppliers or customers of ours,” he said.

Pushing its international remit, USC will launch its pioneering World Bachelors in Business next August. Students spend their first year at USC, second at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, third at Boconi University in Milan, and fourth at any of the three.

“We have much more problem bringing Asian students than we do European”

At the end they receive undergraduate degrees from all three institutions – a first according to Ellis. “It took us a long time to do it, but I think we’ll see more of these partnerships come down the pike,” he said. He added that he wanted to see all students at Marshall Business school have an international experience abroad (up from an already high 80%).

USC has more international students than any other American university – some 22% of its 35,000-strong cohort. So far the university has not used agents, relying on international offices, however Ellis did not rule them out.

“Our source of supply is pretty strong. But are we seeing the best international students? And would agents bring us better students? Quite possibly,” he said.

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