Business students entering post-secondary studies at Lakehead University will have a unique international learning opportunity thanks to a new partnership between the faculty of business administration at Lakehead University and the Rennes School of Business in France.

Participating students at both institutions will participate in a year-long exchange in the third year before returning to their homeland schools to complete their studies. Students will earn two degrees — an honours bachelor of commerce from Lakehead and a bachelor in management from Rennes School of Business upon completion of the four-year International Dual Degree program.

Students can apply to the program directly from high school and be admitted to their first year of the International Dual Degree program. Based on available spaces, students can transfer into the program prior to the third year from another Lakehead business degree program.

David Richards, dean of Lakehead’s faculty of business administration says they have been working with their counterparts at Rennes School of Business for about 18 months to develop this program.

“What we did as part of that process was to look at the two programs. Here at the Lakehead faculty of business administration, we are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA),” said Richards.

The Rennes School of Business has triple accreditation in management education, also known as Triple Crown accreditation.

It is the combined business school accreditation of three major accreditation bodies: AACSB in the United States, AMBA in the United Kingdom and EQUIS in the European Union. About one per cent of business schools are triple-accredited.

Richards added that this is a great opportunity for students at both institutions to develop international networking connections in other locations.

“It is an opportunity for students to really gain that international perspective with respect to their business education, and of course, the earning of two credentials in four years is a great, great opportunity,” he said.

With the ever-changing business landscape, Richards says we are working in a “global environment,” with almost all businesses conducted in an international context when you consider multinational organizations and trade.

“The world today is very much a global world . . . and post-pandemic, I think we’re going to see that that continues,” Richards said.

“We’re going to see that relevance continue, particularly as we are doing more and more things virtually in the world of work. Having that experience in another country provides that cultural competence as well as operating in a world that may have a lot of similarities, but may also have some customs and some practices that are a little bit different.”

Richards said there was a time back when he was a business student where they talked about the international business aspects being different from the rest of business.

“I would say that now it’s integrated. We talk about it in that context,” he said. “We certainly have courses in international business where there are certain topics that are more relevant in an international context. But 30 to 40 years ago, it was a very different environment and the business curriculum had to adapt to that and to those changes in the environment over that course of time.”

Richards added that this new international dual degree program is a modification of all those things that they have been teaching.

Meanwhile, the Rennes School of Business is just as excited to receive Lakehead students who will receive their lessons and instruction in the English language while abroad. Students who are interested will have an opportunity while living there to develop their French language skills as well.

“I am delighted with this collaboration which allows us to propose an alliance between Canada and Ontario on the one hand, and France and the region of Brittany on the other,” said Thomas Froehlicher,

director general and dean of Rennes School of Business in a release to The Chronicle-Journal.

“It is also a great achievement to structure an excellent academic relationship at an undergraduate level with Lakehead University.”