History of the MCA Programme

The MCA is a well-established course with an extensive network of teaching staff and alumni. The following charts its development.

The concept of customs as a university subject

In December 2005, we at the Department of Customs and Excise at Münster University took the decision to launch a postgraduate course dedicated to customs and international trade. This was a response to calls within the customs and trading community for an academic course that addressed issues relating to the trading environment. These include compliance management, trade facilitation and supply chain security to name but a few.

Customs has traditionally attracted little attention at university level and so we had to design our course from scratch. The complexity of this task quickly became obvious: customs is multi-disciplinary subject that involves politics, economics, sociology, law and environmental protection. The framework was provided by the European Credit Transfer System introduced by the EU’s Bologna Process. The exhaustive application procedure places great importance on transparency and this helped us ensure the concept and structure of the course was clear and logical from the outset.

Utilizing the resources of the customs community

Customs is one of the world’s oldest professions. However, it is also a community whose members are united through shared ideals, visions – and the use of English as a common language. The World Customs Organization (WCO) offers a forum for members of this community to exchange views and utilize its great wealth of experience.

We subjected a draft of our proposed curriculum to the World Customs Organization for rigorous analysis. At a meeting with a large group of experts at the WCO headquarters in Brussels we received a number of recommendations which ensured the course subjects were taught in the correct order and reflected the needs of practice. Moreover, it was pointed out that customs authorities had different priorities that reflected the environmental, economic and political conditions existing in the WCO member states. The MCA students would therefore have to play an active role in lectures, drawing attention to the peculiarities of their own customs and trade regimes.

Related projects under the auspices of the World Customs Organization

Through its co-operation with the WCO, the Department of Excise at Münster University has contributed to the success of related projects which serve to promote the research and teaching of customs at university level. These projects are as follows:

Each of these projects represents a milestone in the development of customs-related university education. Taken together they show that a postgraduate course in customs and international trade meets a great need for academic training amongst customs practitioners in the private and public sector.

The MCA today

A few years have passed since the first MCA course was held. During this time, we have continually improved the course in response to suggestions from teaching staff and students.

Although a Master’s degree in customs has attracted a great deal of interest, many customs professionals are unable to spend an extended period of time away from the workplace. We have therefore restructured the MCA as a part-time course with the focus on Europe. It offers a combination of face-to-face and distance-learning, with classes being held monthly over three days. Online participation is also possible for those who cannot attend in person. We hope that this will enable participants to meet the requirements of the MCA with minimal disruption to their professional commitments.

In Co-operation with AWA

The AWA AUSSENWIRTSCHAFTS-AKADEMIE GmbH offers seminars, inhouse-training, distance learning courses and webinars on a wide range of subjects relating to foreign trade. They include customs and export controls, rules of origin and preferential treatment as well as value-added tax, contract law and compliance. The range of seminars offered always pays regard to the current legal situation in foreign trade. Seminars are designed for both beginners in customs and export controls as well as managers. Besides seminars relating to foreign trade, the AWA also organises congresses, special events and annual "updates" (e.g. on export controls and customs).

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