An executive master programme that uniquely brings together three pillars of international trade ‒ customs regulation, supply chain management and logistics, and information and compliance ‒ welcomed its second cohort to Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) on 13 September. The second cohort of the Executive Master in Customs and Supply Chain Compliance builds on the experiences and theses of its first cohort, which graduated very recently. The second cohort were welcomed by the Academic Director Professor Rob Zuidwijk and Professor Eric Waarts, RSM’s Dean of Education.

Expanding global supply chains

The group of 27 students can expect to benefit from sharing ideas, experience and opinions based on a collective total of 500 years of experience in international trade, which requires collaboration across nationalities. “It shares sustainability as an overriding theme in expanding global supply chains. This is where customs, the supply chain and IT come together,” they were told by Executive Director of the programme, Klaas Wassens.

“Your practical insights are really important for learning,” he said. “This is not just a programme in English for Dutch people. This is an international programme because we know that trade is international.” The cohort is almost half female, and almost half international with a total of 12 nationalities represented. Their backgrounds include communications, economics, architecture, law and tax, sociology, international relations, chemical technology, computer science, international logistics, international business, education and safety management.

The cohort work for Dutch, Chinese and Turkish customs organisations, the European Union, international manufacturers, and logistics companies. “The mix of customs and trade professionals coming here to learn about each other with each other is a unique part of the programme,” said Klaas Wassens. He especially welcomed two members of faculty from Shanghai Customs College. Their inclusion illustrated the attractiveness of the programme to internal customs professionals, he said.

“You will change in your job, your colleagues will also experience the change in you, and your company will benefit from RSM’s mission to be a force for positive change, and society will benefit,” he told them.

Interactions with industry and government

Introducing the academic part of the modular programme to come, Professor Rob Zuidwijk said the two-and-a-half year MScCSCC programme is research-driven and teaches from RSM’s interactions with industry and its projects with governments. “The materials we use are inspired by our own work; our relations with customs and industry helped us to think about this programme,” he said.

Programme director Professor Yao-Hua Tan described some of the subjects that participants will study, such as risk management, sourcing and procurement and social corporate responsibility in the supply chain, and modernisation of the European customs code and the implementation of its accompanying IT. He also said that students will work on the fast-growing area of e-commerce and same-day e-fulfilment in the EU, which he anticipates will grow between 10-15 per cent per year for the next five or ten years.

E-commerce: when there’s no consignee

Some members of the first cohort of MScCSCC graduates have already written their theses on e-fulfilment. In the past, orders for goods from China were delivered by plane after the order was placed, but the trend is for large e-commerce businesses to build warehouses in Europe and fulfil orders from there ‒ which means warehouses full of imported goods which are not yet sold so have no consignee. “That’s difficult from a customs point of view,” he commented. “This is when you come across changes in exemption rules; for example, what happens to the current exemption of VAT payment for low value shipments? You really have to know the changes in the rules. And if customs regulations are changed, then companies have to change their IT and the compliance requirements too.”

He also described the importance of the EU’s CORE project on IT innovation for making supply chains safer and more secure, which originated from the Data Pipeline concept six or seven years ago that was introduced by Dutch and UK customs (HMRC). It suggested an ‘internet of logistics’ to optimise supply chains and share data for finance and payment of carriage and handling, and the submission of electronic customs declarations and cross validation of their accuracy with available supply chain data.

The new MSc students will study 11 modules in Rotterdam over the next two and a half years, and graduate in 2019. RSM also offers a shorter Diploma Programme in Customs and Supply Chain Compliance, with nine days of study spread over nine months.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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