Educating bankers

Nearly 25 years ago, when I was acting head of the Business School of Trinity College Dublin, I helped to set up two postgraduate programmes aimed specifically at senior bank employees, and I taught on one of these for a while. It was actually an important development, and I believe played at least a small part in weaning the Irish banks off the then still dominant principle that all career progression was internal and based principally on length of service. Around the same time, DCU (which I was to lead some years later) was also establishing strong educational links with the banking sector, which again proved to be very influential. And of course postgraduate banking courses became common in a number of universities in these islands.

But as the bankers yesterday marched into the Commons Treasury Committee in London to attempt to explain why £7 billion worth of bonuses are an excellent idea at this time, the higher education link is also, perhaps, changing. One university – Napier University in Edinburgh – has announced that it is closing down an M.Sc. programme in professional banking because it cannot get enough students to do it. It is too early to say whether this represents a general trend, but as the banking profession becomes socially isolated it may become more difficult to develop its culture through higher education and continuing professional training.

We may – and I think we should – oppose excessive pay-outs to bankers whose business practices brought down whole economies, but we must also look to the future, and education is an important element. This is not the time to abandon university banking programmes.

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4 Comments on “Educating bankers”

  1. Than Says:

    I don’t think that Napier’s movement represents any trend. I thing that simply it was not a very succesful course for other reasons. One is that Uni of Edinburgh has better and stronger links with banking industry. The second is that a “professional banking” program has also fierce competition from professional qualifications such as CFA and from other relevant courses (not”professional”) such as finance, investment etc.

  2. ivonne Says:

    I completely agree and as a lot of the difficulties in the banking sector have come about by a lack of governance of the risks that were taken and there may be a case for integrating more knowledge of the instruments that are used in banking internationally in both public administration and general business idea so that we are in a position to hold bankers to account.

  3. anna notaro Says:

    In Dundee in April last year a new Islamic Finance course was launched http://www.dundee.ac.uk/pressreleases/2010/prapril10/finance.htm
    ‘The focus on ethical and social justice in Islamic finance’ of similar courses – i.e. the emphasis on the apparent oxymoron ‘ethics & banking’ should be the focus of any academic (western) professional banking course, provided we had learned anything from recent events, that is..

  4. Kevin O'Brien Says:

    At some seminar long ago, I was chatting to a couple of bank employees about their ongoing studies. They had previously done part time programs, but in future they would do self taught programs.

    They seemed more inclined to programs where there was a computer based test – so that they could sit when they like, affording them the opportunity to spread the exams over the year, rather than concentrating them into one or two exam diets.
    I have been a proponent of expanding this learning mode ever since.


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