UBC’s new Bachelor of International Economics program will be the centrepiece of the Vancouver School of Economics
Anyone searching for the next Mark Carney – or any other rock star economist – might want to keep their eye on a new UBC program launching this September.
A flagship offering of UBC’s top-ranked economics school, the program’s goal is to transform some of the world’s best undergraduate students into the next generation of global economic leaders.
The new Bachelor of International Economics (BIE) program will provide a deep understanding of the global economy, with a focus on international trade, finance and international development. It is designed to help students thrive in a wide range of global leadership roles in business, government, NGOs or academia.
“In this rapidly globalizing world, our leaders will need international educations, experiences and networks,” says Ashok Kotwal, director of the new program and a professor in UBC’s newly expanded Vancouver School of Economics. “Our goal is to prepare graduates for these top roles, where they will be in a position to make real change in the world.”
Learning from the best
The program aims to combine the best qualities of programs at leading institutions like Harvard and the London School of Economics, including gifted students, small classes, global experiences and career support, says Kotwal, who is the Editor-in-Chief of Ideas for India, a leading online resource for economics and policy research on India.
To better prepare students for global careers, the program is accepting a greater proportion of international students than any other undergraduate program at UBC – and possibly in Canada. Half of the program’s 85 spots are reserved for international students.
“Our representative student is not someone who just wants to manage a hedge fund. These students are interested in global issues and making the world a better place — and have already started down this path.” –Ashok Kotwal
With more than 2,150 applications flooding in for 85 spots, any doubts of the program’s ability to attract students vanished quickly. As a result, the inaugural cohort includes high-performing students from 23 different nations, including India, China, the U.S., Spain and Pakistan. Many will arrive early for UBC’s two-week Jump Start orientation program for international students, which runs Aug. 15-28.
Kotwal, who entered economics “to understand how to improve economic conditions for poor countries,” calls the incoming class refreshingly idealistic. “Our representative student is not someone who just wants to manage a hedge fund,” he says. “These students are interested in global issues and making the world a better place — and have already started down this path.”
The concept of a small group of students learning together is central to the BIE experience, says Kotwal. “The students will work closely together, learn from each other’s unique perspectives, and graduate with a strong international professional network already established.”
He adds, international students don’t take spots for Canadian students funded by taxpayers, they pay for new spots to be created, which wouldn’t exist otherwise, he says.
A dedicated career centre and career counseling, designed to help graduates find jobs, also makes the BIE unique relative to other economics programs. Students complement their studies with international fieldwork, exchange programs, work placements and research projects abroad.
The evolution of the Vancouver School of Economics
The BIE program is the centrepiece of UBC’s new Vancouver School of Economics. The School, which is Canada’s top-ranked economics program – and one of the top 25 in the world – will bring in up to 10 world-class scholars and is now the largest unit of the UBC Faculty of Arts’ 28 schools and departments.
The new BIE students and faculty recruits will join the School’s more than 700 existing students in other undergraduate and graduate programs, and more than 50 faculty, who study a variety of topics, including international trade, global economic growth, inequality, the roots of poverty, financial crises, environmental sustainability and gender discrimination.
The School has launched a conference series to address pressing global and national economics issues, starting with an event on Sept. 20 at UBC Robson Square, that will feature leading economists from Harvard, MIT, University of California, Northwestern University and UBC, discussing the latest developments in international trade, unemployment, poverty and environmental policy.
“The problems of economic inequality, slow economic growth and unemployment are critical global issues,” says Prof. Michael Devereux, Director of UBC’s Vancouver School of Economics. “These problems require creative thinking and fact-based policy. This is what the discipline of economics can provide – and precisely the strengths of the group of top economic researchers we have at our School.”
Learn more about the Bachelor of International Economics program and UBC’s Vancouver School of Economics here.