James Cook University Singapore's (JCUS) Business School has
refreshed its Masters programme in International Tourism and Hospitality
Management (MITHM), with MICE as one of the leading subjects. It will
be offered in the November trimester—but with the industry currently in
free fall, is a Master's degree in MICE really necessary?
Explaining the rationale, Dr K Thirumaran, academic head of business
at JCUS, says, “Singapore and Australia are regional leaders in the MICE
business. There is increasing demand for professionals with such
expertise from emerging destinations such as India, Indochina and
Indonesia, and JCUS can help in educating the next generation.”
The protracted Covid-19 pandemic has seen a transformation in the
events industry; virtual and hybrid events are the ‘new normal’. The
MICE subject—Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events—will enable
students to adapt and conceptualise future-ready events.
“We also want to make a difference to students’ learning experience
beyond theoretical knowledge,” Thirumaran says, citing previous business
consultancy projects where postgraduate students evaluated and
recommended market strategies for a major business hotel in Cambodia,
and created and then volunteered at events hosted in Singapore.
Pre-pandemic, students attended major trade events to observe and
acquire important skill sets.
MICE is one of 12 tourism- and business-related subjects in the MITHM
programme. Through interactive learning, students develop critical
thinking, professional communication skills and creative approaches to
effectively solve problems and innovate new service outcomes. MBA
students may take MICE as an elective subject.
Students on the MITHM-MBA programme can acquire wider knowledge and
skill sets that are transmutable to enterprise in a wider international
business community. Postgraduate cohorts mostly comprise foreign
Industry players have mixed views on the new subject and Master’s
qualifications. One says such degrees are unnecessary in MICE,
especially in exhibition companies and event operations where
“experience is always preferred”, although they could be an asset to
government agencies. Another veteran says Master’s subjects must be
distinct, as employers could recruit diploma and degree graduates on a
lower pay scale.
Yvonne Low, executive director, The Traveller DMC, says MICE
graduates could organise internal company events and CSR programmes in
large organisations. “Managing and executing a MICE event is like
running a business project from start to finish. They can apply
organisation skills, budget control and teamwork dynamics, and also
present to high-level decision-makers such as organisers of medical and
Rosalind Ng, managing director, Globe International Events
Consultancy, concurs, “An events or project manager has to manage a
project from business development, budgeting, launch, sales and
marketing and public relations to operations. So, it’s useful if they
have all-round knowledge, although each sector differs slightly
Richard Ireland, vice president, professional development in the
Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and
Suppliers, notes, “The industry must be prepared to operate within new
parameters and with new skill sets.
"Once native skills to adjacent industries—such as content curation,
broadcasting, digital marketing, gamification and behavioural
sciences—are now frontier skills and knowledge that event practitioners
must acquire to be employable and relevant for the events industry in a
Covid-19 future. A more agile and digitally focused sector will prove
critical in serving customers in both physical and digital
Will newly minted JCUS MICE/Master’s graduates be up to this challenge?