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BATHURST, NSW, Australia and LEICESTER, UK – Two universities, two countries thousands of miles apart, two different training programs, but both have the same goal – train credit union people to be better in their jobs. Charles Sturt University in Australia and Leicester University in England, both have developed advanced studies particularly tailored to credit unions’ needs. The Australian Institute of Credit Union Management (AICUM) works with Charles Sturt University and has a distance learning program that has produced 40 certificates in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The New Guinea program is backed by the Papua New Guinea Federation of Savings & Loans Societies Limited. Students need to complete four courses over one or two years. They include Organizations and Management, Organization Behaviour, Marketing Principles and Human Resource Management. Each course takes about six months. The philosophy behind the courses, according to co-ordinator Jan Knox, is that many credit union managers are well trained in the technical parts of their work. However, as they move through management ranks they realize that most of their problems are not whether the books balance or the computer system is up and running. These are easily solvable usually by established methods and practices. But management of human behavior is not as easy to solve because there is no set methodology to solve people problems. Nor are there manuals out there that advise on how to fix people. A big step toward handling people effectively however, is for “managers at all levels to invest time and effort in understanding organizational behaviour and dealing with such topics as job motivation, conflict management, leadership development and negotiation skills, communication processes, stress management and associated concerns relevant to their role,” Knox said. The program is designed to expose students to enough theories that they can draw from them to be more effective in their own organizations. Charles Sturt University is fast becoming one of Australia’s most responsive and progressive universities, playing an important role in the educational and research sectors both in Australia and overseas. They work closely with industry and government to provide relevant courses to meet the needs of both today’s and the future’s workplace. Although credit union students do not have residency requirements, there are campuses in Bathurst, Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga for the 30,000 students enrolled. The university was named for explorer Charles Sturt who after arriving in Australia in 1827, explored inland Australia. He was quoted as saying that he had, “A wish to contribute to the public good” which is in line with the credit union philosophy as well as the university’s. At the moment the credit union certificate program is limited to those with five years credit union experience from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Students completing the program receive a certificate. Leicester University has a slightly different approach, although it has a similar goal in making credit union people more effective in their jobs. Beginning this October, Leicester University in England, will upgrade its six-module Co-operative Management and Organizational Development for Credit Unions program to a Masters of Arts Degree. Students currently enrolled will have the choice of continuing with the current program or transferring the credits to their M.A., according to director Dr. Peter Davis. Dr. Davis said that, “Leicester University is the first University in the world to offer postgraduate programs dedicated to the co-operative and credit union movements by distance learning. It is also the first University to offer masters programs in Co-operative Management in the English language.” He believes there are resident programs given in French in Canada and in Russian in Russia. Over 150 students from over 20 countries are currently participating in the Leicester program. The student body is made up practicing managers of credit unions and other co-operatives, also board members, development workers and consultants working in the credit union and co-operative sectors. -

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