COMPLETING A BUSINESS PROGRAM might open doors to new opportunities—but only if students can afford the tuition. When business schools reduce the cost barrier, they not only attract a wider range of students, they also help diversify their student bodies and the potential pool of workers for employers. Two business schools have designed scholarship programs that specifically target those who want to boost their skills, whether they’re entering the workforce for the first time or re-entering the workforce after taking breaks from their careers.
This May, Wits Business School at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, welcomed 250 students between the ages of 18 and 35 to attend its New Venture Programme. All the students had received a unique opportunity: a full scholarship to the 12-month program, provided by Johannesburg-based Services Sector Education and Training Authority in partnership with Wits’ Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE). The scholarship also includes a stipend, so students can support themselves while they study.
In addition to completing coursework, the students will complete internships with company partners to gain work experience and improve their future employability. “This project is about helping young people understand the workplace from an entrepreneurial orientation, and to do that we need companies to assist with placements,” says Chimene Chetty, director of the CfE. The program, she adds, offers companies the “chance to do their civic duty in addressing economic growth and unemployment,” while having access to an affordable pool of workers.
A new tuition program at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), part of the UNSW Business School at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, targets caregivers re-entering the workforce after having taken care of loved ones. AGSM recently offered ten fully funded Career Comeback Sponsorships, each worth up to AU$21,000 (nearly US$16,000), to cover tuition for its certificate program in executive management and development.
To make it easier for recipients to attend class, the school will provide up to AU$60 per day to cover child care costs and up to $350 per course to cover any costs for travel to the Sydney campus. Those traveling from Western Australia are eligible to receive up to $550 for travel reimbursement.
Scholarship recipients also will have access to the Career Comeback Network, an online community providing professional development, career services, and networking opportunities. Research shows that family caregivers are primarily women who choose to stay at home to care for their children, says Julie Cogin, AGSM’s director and UNSW Business School’s deputy dean. The Career Comeback sponsorships were a way to encourage these women—many of whom face financial constraints—to return to the work.
Both men and women were eligible to apply for the sponsorships, but of the 186 applications AGSM received, 91 percent were submitted by women. Of the ten students selected as Career Comeback recipients, nine were women.
“A career break shouldn’t exclude intelligent, capable women from returning to the workplace,” says Cogin. “Sponsorships allow them to build upon their existing skills, access professional networks, and progress in their careers.”
Scholarship recipients can choose to follow one of four pathways, each supporting different stages of a management career. Because these applicants are likely to face time constraints as well, they can take courses at any time, as long as they complete the program in two years.
“The Career Comeback sponsorships,” says Cogin, “are a reflection of the AGSM’s commitment to removing employment barriers, increasing diversity in Australian organizations, and contributing toward the development of future female business leaders.”
This article originally appeared in BizEd's September/October 2017 print issue. If you have comments or feedback on its content, please contact us at [email protected].