Will the Real Sydney Business School Please Stand Up? | TopMBA.com

Will the Real Sydney Business School Please Stand Up?

By Tim Dhoul

Updated June 28, 2019 Updated June 28, 2019

If you’re looking to undertake an MBA in Australia – the world’s fourth most-popular study destination according to QS research – then the city of Sydney is probably pretty high on your list. However, you might then find that there are currently two universities offering MBAs that make use of the phrase ‘Sydney Business School’ in their names.

Indeed, the allure of this adage is the subject of a dispute dating back to 2013 between the University of Wollongong and the University of Sydney, and for which a federal court date has now been set for next week.

The University of Sydney is Australia’s oldest university, but it was the University of Wollongong (UOW) that first made use of the moniker ‘Sydney Business School’ to denote the graduate arm of its business faculty in 1999. It currently offers a full-time MBA from both Sydney’s Circular Quay area and UOW’s main campus in Wollongong. In 2011, the University of Sydney moved to rebrand its Faculty of Economics and Business as the University of Sydney Business School. This name won approval in 2013, according to the Australian Financial Review, the same year in which the University of Sydney Business School launched a new part-time MBA (it also offers an executive MBA).

University of Sydney’s objection to UOW trademark upheld

By 2013 however, UOW had moved to trademark the use of ‘Sydney Business School’. Its competitor’s objections culminated in the Australian Trade Marks Office upholding the complaint last month, with the decision resting on its interpretation of the term as being solely ‘descriptive’ and, therefore, not something UOW could claim for use as a registered trademark. UOW has appealed and is blaming the University of Sydney for creating confusion by swapping the name of its business faculty for one that also contains the phrase ‘Sydney Business School’. The University of Sydney’s case, meanwhile, is that it is confusing for a Wollongong-based institution to use the city of Sydney in the name of its graduate business school. (Wollongong lies approximately 80km south along the coastline from Sydney and is New South Wales’ third-largest city).

From an objective perspective, such a fuss over terminology may seem silly but, in higher education, the use of a name that is synonymous with a popular place of study and recognizable the world over can provide an excellent means of attracting prospective students. For business schools who offer postgraduate and MBA programs, the stakes are particularly high because their propensity to attract international applicants tends to be higher than it is for the average program. The sizeable tuition fees attached to a degree as prestigious and internationally recognized as the MBA can also be vital source of revenue to a wider university.

There are a fair few examples of similar-sounding business school names for prospective students to grapple with. In the US, we have an Anderson School of Management at UCLA as well as one at the University of New Mexico. There is also the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California (UC) Riverside. Incidentally, UC Riverside shortens that to ‘AGSM’ – the very same acronym used by another provider of an MBA in Sydney, the University of New South Wales’ Australian Graduate School of Business. Still following?

This article was originally published in April 2016 . It was last updated in June 2019

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Written by

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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