UNSW redesigns Bachelor of Commerce
to produce post-COVID work-ready graduates
October 2020 @BUSINESS
Uncles said the new Bachelor of Commerce is designed to meet industry needs.
Building on the strengths of the existing
Bachelor of Commerce, the redesigned degree will equip the next generation of
business professionals with skills to thrive in a post-COVID world.
UNSW Sydney’s redesigned Bachelor of
Commerce has been developed from the ground up in response to pre- and
post-COVID challenges facing businesses now and in the future.
Aspiring graduates will require a more
diverse range of skills outside of those taught in traditional business
degrees, said Mark Uncles, Deputy Dean (Education) and Professor of Marketing at
UNSW Business School.
understanding of areas such as accounting and financial literacy, economic and
marketing principles, business communications and teamwork all remain important for
organisations, additional themes have emerged in recent times,” said Professor
“These include learning how to survive –
and thrive – in the digital economy. It is clear we need to give more emphasis
to digital literacy, business analytics, organisational agility, workforce
flexibility, innovation and entrepreneurialism.
“This holds true because of the current
pandemic, but also because of the other big issues we face as a nation, such as
climate change, limited water resources, changing energy demands, urban growth
and renewal, and population ageing. There are business challenges – and
opportunities – in all these areas.”
To equip graduates with a sharper
skillset, UNSW Business School engaged a wide range of employers as well as its
Business Advisory Council (which includes Board Directors and C-Suite
executives from Australia’s top listed companies, regulators and public sector
organisations) to better understand their business and organisational
Designed to meet
EY’s Oceania Campus Recruitment Lead,
Sarah Perrens, served as the industry representative on the Academic Program
Review panel redesigning UNSW’s Bachelor of Commerce.
As well as the skills EY would expect to
see in its graduates – such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving –
Perrens said the firm now assesses graduates for a range of other skills and
These include adaptability, being a
virtual collaborator, drive and resilience, learning agility, and being
technology focused (the ability to keep abreast of new technologies and how they
can practically be applied), Perrens explained.
“We are seeing an increasing demand for
future skills in data and analytics, and staying abreast of new technologies
such as automation, robotics and AI. Creativity, problem-solving, adaptability
and resilience will be paramount in the future,” she said.
Professor Uncles underscored the
importance of producing graduates with a current and focused work-ready
“UNSW’s Bachelor of Commerce has always
done well in attracting students with first-rate maths and literacy abilities
with a good technical grounding, and then building on that to develop their
analytical and critical skills within a particular discipline.”
Employers are looking for graduates with
analytical and critical thinking skills who can work with data and apply their
insights to address particular business or societal problems. Areas of
application are as diverse as auditing and fintech, and consulting and business
Professor Uncles said employers are also
looking for communication skills that extend beyond simple oral and written
presentation to the visual presentation of data using Tableau and PowerBI, and
the ability to draw out insights for decision-making.
Other valuable skills incorporated into
UNSW’s Bachelor of Commerce include teamwork and collaboration to address
practical business problems, well-developed levels of cultural competence,
business ethics and leadership in terms of influence.
“All our students will be engaged in
work-integrated learning and have access to our unique Career Accelerator
services, including options for career development, internships, mentoring, and
practicums. They will curate these activities – and their attainment of skills
– into personal portfolios,” Professor Uncles said.
"We are embedding all of these
skills and competencies, and practical employability features, into the
curriculum – they aren’t optional extras, they are built into the fabric of the
cross-functional value in business
Employers and UNSW’s Business Advisory Council
also highlighted the importance of cross-functional and cross-disciplinary
thinking. The Bachelor of Commerce first year courses now come together as a
fully integrated offering.
“If you think about what goes on inside
an organisation, there are interrelationships between all the functions,” said
Professor Uncles. “Accounting and finance principles naturally fit together,
while international business and marketing often go together, so too do
governance, regulation and ethics.
“In the broader business ecosystem, at a
macro level, opportunities and problems don’t present themselves in neat
packages, so it’s important to apply a business mindset where connections and
interdependencies are understood.
“We carry this through to double degree
programs where the Bachelor of Commerce is offered in combination with other
degrees,” Professor Uncles said.
A large number of students, for example,
are undertaking a Commerce degree with Engineering. Professor Uncles explained
how this approach might add cross-functional value within an organisation.
“Say there was a problem around water
resources in a region of Australia. You can think about that from an
engineering perspective, but also think about the business opportunities
presented by water management.
“That’s where value is created, or if
you do it badly, where value is lost – and that’s the kind of connected
thinking we are developing in our students.”
The first undergraduate intake will be
Term 1, 2021. Interested students can find out more on the UNSW Business School website.