Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us today where we'll be talking about the economics major within the Bachelor of Business and the Bachelor of Economics here at UTS Business School. My name is Rachel and joining me is Professor Peter Siminski from our economics department.
Hello everybody, thank you for joining us. I'm the director of engagement here at the economics department at UTS. And I'm going to talk to you today about studying economics at UTS.
So Peter what exactly is economics?
Economics is an incredibly broad discipline. It's a social science with very rigorous use of theory and methods. Fundamentally, at its core, it's the study of decision making about resources, about the allocation of resources. So that makes it fundamental to business decisions, to government decisions and also to studying many social issues.
And why should students study economics?
The first reason that students should study economics is because economics graduates are highly employable. They are very well paid and have very diverse employment pathway opportunities, both in business and in government and also in further education in the tertiary education sector. Most graduate recruitment programs at large organizations employ economists whether they're financial institutions, consultancies, government departments, and so on. Economists are renowned for their analytical skills or ability to work with data, to think systematically about any given problem. Economists tend to be good at maths, but people to study maths, you don't have to necessarily study economics, or you don't necessarily have to be great at maths, but it's best if you're not bad at it, or if you're not fearful of maths. Ultimately, economics gives students incredibly powerful tools that are useful for understanding some of the world's most important and interesting issues and how to deal with those. So as a case in point, take the current crisis of COVID. Obviously, this is a multifaceted crisis of both health and economics. Economists have been heavily involved in debates about appropriate policy responses, partly because the virus itself, as well as, the policy response have profound economic implications. Now, sometimes it has been characterized as a situation of economics versus health, that there is one side versus another. It's interesting and important to note that economics is not life, economics is about maximizing welfare ultimately, and welfare includes recognizing the value of human life and health. In fields such as public economics, health economics and cost benefit analysis, for a very long time economists have been dealing with the question of how to actually put a value on health and on life in order to make decisions which involve trade offs against other things. Often these sorts of decisions, and certainly in the COVID situation, it's very important to take a long run dynamic perspective and to take into account the fact that sometimes there may need to be some short term gain. So short term pain in order to lead to longer term benefits. Now, one of the interesting things about the COVID situation is that it's a classic case of where governments need to intervene in markets that are not functioning well, particularly in this question of externalities. If somebody catches the disease, then that has implications for the health of other people. So this is this is known as an externality, associated with people practicing, making decisions which don't always take into account other people's welfare. The lockdowns and the regulations that we have are an attempt to regulate behavior which isn't socially optimal. Now, all sorts of other interesting policy options or policy responses in the COVID era involve economics fundamentally, for example, expenditure that we're having on job keeper and job seeker and other programs of fiscal stimulus, really important to get the economy moving, to keep people in work and prevent them from from falling into poverty as well. So there's all sorts of economics going on here at the moment and to really understand the whole political discourse on this it's important to be well versed in economics and possibly, you know, down the track being involved in making such decisions and contributing to such debates if you've done an economics degree. Here's some some other examples of some really centrally important global and local economic challenges. The some of the biggest challenges of our time are essentially economic questions, the question of rising inequality, which we've seen sharply over the last few decades, it's really any economics that that can help you understand the causes, as well as the consequences of inequality and as well as the evaluating the efficacy of policy options. Whether this involves more taxes and transfers, whether this involves targeted investment in human capital and education, or whether it involves interventions in international trade markets and the like. Climate change is another example. The policies that governments have considered and used to mitigate climate change, or all economic policies, that whether it's the carbon tax or its emissions trading scheme, or whether it's subsidies for firms to invest in green energy. These are all economic policies. The gender wage gap is another is another example. economists are the ones who have been studying the gender wage gap for decades, using tools such as understanding labor supply decisions, tried to uncover discrimination in the labor market by employers or by customers, the process of human capital accumulation and the like. And of course, questions such as what are the implications of a trade war between US and China, macro economists have the skills to understand and predict what those implications would be.
Now for students interested in studying economics at UTS, what are their options?
There are two main options that students can take. One of them is to enrol in a Bachelor of Business and major in economics, and the other is to take a, to enrol in the Bachelor of economics. The first of those, the B Bus is kind of our large, all purpose, degree, undergraduate degree here in the business school takes in about a couple of thousand students every year in age intake, and students once they are in the B Bus can take a variety of majors, I think there's nine in total with economics being one of the options, they have a bit of time to decide what they want to major in, they can double major. Whereas in the Bachelor of Economics, this is more of a sort of boutique degree for people who really know that they want to study economics, and they get straight into it from the first year. They do more economics, they do less of the other subjects, and they can also then take another major as well. One of the main differences between the two programs is the first year experience, some of these subjects in the Bachelor of Business, sorry in the Bachelor of Economics are only taken by a relatively small cohort of Bachelor of Economics students, around 50 to 100 students take the first two courses in micro economics and macroeconomics. Whereas the B Bus students, they're typically in lectures of over 1000 students for their first few classes, a little bit easier for the B Ec students to get to know each other early, form their networks and keep those networks as they go through. As I said the other major difference between the two degrees is the content in the first year, the core and in the B Bus has eight compulsory subjects which span the economics, span the business fields, including a little bit of economics. Whereas in the in the B Ec, the first year is almost all economics core subjects. So just moving on to some of the subjects that are in the two programs you can see there in in the Bachelor of Economics, the core, I think it's 11 economics core subjects plus a choice out of three. And then you can take another major. Students often choose to major in finances as the other component in there. And then there's the economics major, there on the left hand side there as well.
What are the skills that they'll be walking away with?
So the students who have done an economics degree, as I was saying earlier, they're very much regarded as analytical, systematic thinkers, they tend to be people who are good with data and breaking down a problem. But there's all sorts of things that that students learn. So in an economics degree they cover topics such as game theory. So they'll learn about strategic behaviour, which is very important when there are a small number of players involved in a market. They'll learn about behavioral economics. And therefore, they'll have a broad understanding of what kind of things drives human decision making, not only in a sort of rational way, in a narrow sense, but in a way that it incorporates all sorts of other psychological considerations. The program is very applied. So most of the subjects will include some case studies and some real life applications of the tools and techniques that they'll be learning throughout the degree. And as I was saying earlier, because it's such a general degree, such a general field of study the the skills that economists have are valued very broadly and in all sorts of not only industries and employers, but in all sorts of occupations as we'll see in a little while, so the very economists have a very diverse set of potential options in terms of the pathways.
And why should students study economics at UTS, specifically?
So, the economics department at UTS is still a relatively young department. But despite that, we've been consistently ranked in the top five or so economics departments in the country for research, particularly in fields such as behavioral economics, micro economic theory, market design, and applied micro econometrics. So, taking a degree at UTS economics, you will be taught by and exposed to some of the best economic researchers in the country. Secondly, the teachers in economics are outstanding teachers the lecturers tend to win lots of prizes nationally, they have high teaching evaluations. And generally, they're very highly regarded as teachers. Another aspect of effective UTS in general, but particularly relevant for the business programs is geographic location. Now is it's a fantastic location, not only because it's 10 minutes from Central Station, and close to all sorts of interesting, wonderful activities, but it's also right on the fringe of the CBD, of course, which again, is not only a good thing for convenience for people to combine their work in this study, for instance, but it also means that the engagement opportunities that UTS has, with key employers are really quite profound. So we have all sorts of things such as mentoring programs, research partnerships, alumni events, guest lectures, easy access to recruitment events, work integrated learning, which stems partly from this geographic location, but also a concerted effort by UTS, the business school and the economics department to link very strongly with employers.
Where do our economics alumni ended up working?
Economics alumni end up everywhere, essentially. But they're particularly concentrated in the corporate world. In financial institutions, as well as in consultancies. As you see there in the graph, these are the top 10 employers source from the database on LinkedIn. You see, all four of the big banks are in there, the Commonwealth bank, Macquarie sorry, National Bank, Westpac, and ANZ, as well as the Macquarie Bank, and then you have the consultancy firms EY and Deloitte. They're also the two on the bottom there. They're the large corporate real estate organizations, so most of these large corporate organizations. Now this may be somewhat misleading just because these are some of the biggest companies in the country. And so it's not surprising though, that they may end up employing a lot of people. And quite a number of our graduates also end up in the public sector working in places such as the Treasury and the Reserve Bank, in places such as the Department of Education, Department of Health, and so on. So they do end up working in a large variety of places.
And what kind of roles do they end up working in?
There is another graph that speaks to this again, this is from LinkedIn. So this is a self provided data and we have to go takes with a little bit of a grain of salt. But you'll see there that the economist doesn't appear there, which is an interesting observation to start with, it does show you that that economics graduates they tend to enter the corporate world, through graduate recruitment programs, then they can move into all sorts of things. So business development, there is the top one. Finance is very high. That's probably partly because economics graduates often have finance majors as well, but not necessarily. And then you have operations, sales, education, so again, it's extremely broad. Here are a couple of examples here that I know personally, these are two of our honours students that have come through in the last couple of years. Rachel got the B Bus with Honors in 2018. She, after a short stint working within UTS itself, ended up going through the graduate recruitment program at Deloitte Access Economics. And she's doing well there, with a few of our other alumni who are also working very closely with her. Steve is another honours graduate as I said, he has gone for the public sector path. Initially working for the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, and then moving over to the Center for Education, Statistics and Evaluation, and I think Steve is actually back there at BCSR. So these are all research roles. Steve works closely with data and does a lot of evaluation work. So this is one of the kind of paths also that people take him. And finally, is Matthew, who's from 2007 has taken a big career pathway within the Commonwealth Bank. So as you saw earlier, the Commonwealth Bank is our largest employer of graduates, we have very strong relationships with the Commonwealth Bank through executive education and other other relationships. Matthew has gone from a graduate position, right up through to executive manager of small business strategy and partnerships within the CBA.
What would be your top tip for students interested in studying economics?
Just follow your passions and your interests. The thing about economics is that it's not only a vocational degree, which will get you a great job. It allows you to study the most interesting and important social issues that we're faced with. So you don't have to compromise on your passions and your interests by following your pathway that'll give you a good job, so you'll be able to do all of it.
Peter, thank you so much for your time and talking us through economics options at UTS.
Thank you, and thank you to the students again for joining us and I hope to see you on campus sometime soon at UTS, studying economics.
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