In an effort to elevate more women to management roles in Bangladesh’s apparel industry, the Asian University for Women (AUW) and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd. (HSBC) have teamed up to launch the HSBC-AUW School of Apparel and Retail Management. Students in the one-year master of science program will study supply chain management, brand management, fashion, merchandising, and managing occupational health and safety issues.
The inaugural year of the program at the independent liberal arts and sciences university will admit 50 students in 13 targeted courses starting in August. Most of the women entering the inaugural class of the apparel management master’s degree program have earned bachelor’s degrees in economics, but any bachelor’s degree would qualify.
Students begin the program with a two-week industry immersion. Following their 10 months of academic work, they then have a two-month internship, giving them hands-on experience and putting the academic parts of the program to direct use.
“Today, the apparel industry in Bangladesh needs a homegrown talent pool,” says Rubana Huq, vice chancellor of AUW.
The apparel industry is the country’s largest industry, accounting for more than 80% of Bangladesh’s total export revenue. It employs more than 4 million people, of which about two-thirds are women.
“The global apparel industry is evolving rapidly alongside emerging technologies, changing consumption patterns and an increasing focus on sustainability. We are proud to partner with the Asian University for Women to launch the HSBC-AUW School of Apparel and the master’s program,” says Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking, South and Southeast Asia, for HSBC.
AUW, in Chittagong, was chartered in 2005 to increase opportunities for women, particularly first-generation college students and those whose beliefs do not allow young women to live away from home in coed schools. The university opened to its first students in 2008, and construction is underway on its own campus. Currently the school operates out of temporary facilities. The construction project’s goals include equal pay for women on the project and women making up half of the workforce.
Majors include bioinformatics; economics; environmental sciences; politics, philosophy, and economics; and public health. There are also two additional one-year course tracks preparing students for the school’s undergraduate programs, which are all taught in English. The school has a master’s degree program in education as well.