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Learning for Social Impact: The Importance of Higher Education for the Social Sector


4 June 2015 at 11:27 am
Lina Caneva
A new Australian first-of-its-kind MBA in Social Impact will meet not only the desire for professional development and education in the social sector, but also the growing need for it.

Lina Caneva | 4 June 2015 at 11:27 am


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Learning for Social Impact: The Importance of Higher Education for the Social Sector
4 June 2015 at 11:27 am

A new Australian first-of-its-kind MBA in Social Impact will meet not only the desire for professional development and education in the social sector, but also the growing need for it.

The Not for Profit sector is now the fastest growing sector of the Australian economy. In a recent research report Learning for Purpose, the Centre for Social Impact revealed that since 2008, it has grown at almost twice the rate of the resource sector. Today, Australian Not for Profit organisations (NFPs) employ over one million people, manage more than five million volunteers, and generate $55 billion towards Australia’s GDP.

Unsurprisingly, with this growth comes an increasing range of challenges. More than ever, NFPs are held accountable to deliver better quality services, manage shifting volunteer and donor preferences, adapt to new regulatory frameworks, develop complex strategies, and compete for limited resources and clients in the face of increasing costs and decreasing funds.

The ability for any organisation to respond to such complex challenges successfully rests on the capability of its people. Indeed, people are the key in the NFP sector, as reflected by 51 per cent of budgets being spent on labour costs. This is the backdrop to the Centre for Social Impact’s commitment to developing a suite of higher education offerings.

For emerging social impact leaders, we developed a comprehensive postgraduate program, called the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact (GCSI). This was designed for people from all sectors: Not for Profit, business and Government, to come together to deepen their learning in subject areas that are proven to make change matter: social innovation design, reporting and measuring social impact, social investment and philanthropy, corporate responsibility and accountability, leadership, system change and cross-sectoral collaboration (all of which are also available as non-award courses). The GCSI is offered at UNSW Australia, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Western Australia.

For established social impact leaders looking to formalise their position, we have partnered with the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at UNSW Business School on the launch of a new MBA (Social Impact). This specialised online MBA is part of a new suite of online MBA programs launched by AGSM collectively known as “MBAX” and includes MBA (Change) and MBA (Technology).

It’s exciting news, as the MBA (Social Impact) is the first of its kind in Australia and the first fully online MBA from an Australian Go8 University. Its aim is to provide a strong platform for professionals seeking to develop key management skills and a deep understanding of how they can create real social impact. The program builds upon the traditional MBA subjects with the six social impact courses from the GCSI and is heralded as AGSM’s next generation online MBA. It’s a market first: an MBA that combines traditional business leadership and social impact, delivered fully online from an Australian Go8 University.

The findings from our research indicate that there is not only a clear desire for professional development and education in the social sector, but there is a very clear need. And those organisations that do support further education have shown to improve their organisational effectiveness and therefore facilitate social change. If you’re not yet ready to take the leap into university, then you can explore our upcoming educational events. In July we are partnering with Social Leadership Australia and Collaboration for Impact to produce our conference Collaboration for Impact, which will teach about the importance of collaboration, Collective Impact, and how to make it work in your organisation. It’s a good way to get a sample of the bigger educational offerings we have.

To find out more, click here.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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