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The ABCs of an MBA in HK, China or beyond

Published on Friday, 14 Sep 2012
William Wang Yuanhuai

The first MBA programmes in mainland China were officially launched in 1991, when the Ministry of Education authorised nine business schools to offer such programmes. At the start, most were offered in co-operation with overseas business schools. With the rapid development of the Chinese economy, more and more business schools have been joining the club.

Now there are 233 business schools running MBA programmes in the mainland. As they started at different times, some have already achieved AACSB, EQUIS or AMBA accreditation, while others are beginners.

With China’s rapid economic growth, the country’s demand for MBA graduates is huge as more and more Chinese companies explore opportunities overseas. There is a big demand for MBA graduates with overseas experience, but not nearly enough to meet demand.

The sector is becoming more internationalised and business schools are becoming more practical. More are getting international accreditations such as the three mentioned above. They are putting more emphasis on social responsibility and sustainable development, are more down to earth, and are able to serve the community, promote economic development and protect the environment.

MBA graduates are being recruited by all sorts of companies – consulting firms, listed companies, companies with rapid business developments, multinationals, state-owned enterprises, and big private companies. MBA graduates are sought after because they are equipped with comprehensive knowledge and skills, and can deal with different kinds of problems and challenges.

Most students enrolling in MBA programmes are self-funded, believing luck favours those better prepared. Some realise their shortcomings and wish to boost their ability to cope with challenges at work. Many part-timers apply what they learn in jobs after class.

Some companies sponsor half or all of their employees’ tuition because they want to encourage them to improve their ability to meet the demand for business development. These companies usually have regular budgets for training or executive education. Some even encourage staff to take part in overseas exchange programmes, paying for travel and accommodation expenses.

Is it better for students wanting to pursue a career in the mainland do an MBA there, in Hong Kong or overseas? It depends on the student.

Foreign students aiming for a career in the mainland should be encouraged to choose a business school there as they can gain more knowledge about China and experience the culture. It is also easier to set up a future business network.

Local students should get international experience and are better off studying in Hong Kong or overseas.

William Wang Yuanhuai is director of the MBA Education Center at the Sun Yat-sen Business School at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.
As told to Michael Taylor

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