MBA in Asia: The Pacific Rim

Find out how the MBA in Asia is advancing in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan with an ever-growing number of programmes.

MBA in Asia: The Pacific Rim

As commerce in the Pacific Rim continues to soar in the global economy, regional educational institutions are staying in step with their enterprising populations by offering an ever-expanding number of MBA programs. Huge international investment flows, often in partnership with top American and European universities, are pushing the region’s schools to attain prominence far beyond their borders.

Feeding the educational fury are the following business schools which established campuses alone or in partnership with local institutions in Singapore: The famous French Insead started MBA and executive MBA programs in October 2000. Insead, the only business school with two fully integrated campuses in Europe and Asia, also notes an influx of Asian students back in Fontainebleau, up from 5 percent in 2000 to 25 percent of the student body in 2004.

  • The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business was the first leading U.S. business school to establish a campus in Asia. It began its executive MBA course in September 2000.
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Nanyang Technology University teamed up to offer executive MBAs in 2003.
  • The University of California, Los Angeles, in partnership with the National University of Singapore, introduced executive MBA programs in 2004.
  • Plans are in the pipeline for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in partnership with Seoul’s Sungkyunkwan University, to offer MBAs through a program funded by the Samsung Foundation.

Going for a song in Singapore

Singapore, long striving to become an international education hub, stands best positioned to increase its global reach if MBA programs in the United States continue losing their popularity among international students due to difficulties in obtaining student visas and comparatively exorbitant tuition costs. Where else can you earn an MBA for a song? The MBA programmes in Singapore government supported schools costs approximately US$47,000 for the entire program. Increasing competition should ensure that prices remain low in the future.

Compare that with $75,000 for tuition alone at Stanford's full-time two-year MBA course or $67,300 at Harvard. Neither of these totals includes hefty charges for books and other outside fees, nor do they include living expenses.

Easier to just stay home

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the organization that administers the GMAT, nearly 75 percent of American MBA programs reported a significant decline in international applications during the first half of 2004. Student visa problems tied to national security concerns were cited as the primary reason. Delays of up to 12 weeks – compared to the previous two or threeweek issuance period – have discouraged many prospective students. As a result, international MBA programs outside the U.S. are picking up steam, the GMAC’s Application Trends Survey states. Furthermore, schools worldwide reported the greatest decline in international applications – 25 percent – from China, one of the top contributors to the international applicant pool in the past. “China used to have a handful of MBA programs and now they have hundreds,” said Rachel Edgington, Associate Director of Research at the Council’s offices in Virginia.

Domestic vs. international considerations are always primary in school selection, as Edgington explains: “One reason people decide to pursue an MBA is based on the value of the school. If someone felt a school in their country would offer a better quality education, better career opportunities and a broader international experience, they wouldn’t have to relocate. Now, people have alot more choices and since they have more choices, they can stay in their own country.”

Statistics for GMAT tests taken by citizenship show that an enormous pool of MBA applicants has developed in the Pacific Rim, with three Asian countries perennially in the top six. In 2003, out of a total of 227,339 test-takers, the figures are as follows:

  • United States 116, 071
  • India 13,168
  • China 10,428
  • Korea 6,651
  • Canada 6,619
  • Japan 5,047

So, it’s very close with a lot of moving around in the rankings for these top countries in terms of volume, most markedly in the Asian countries,” Edgington said.

Singapore: the Global School House

Snowballing numbers of international students are heading to Singapore, in the wake of the government’s efforts to turn the city-state into what officials call a “global school house.” The region has begun attracting foreign students in droves: over the past five years, the number of foreign students has increased by 54 percent to 50,000. But that’s only the beginning – the government expects to triple the number of foreign students to 150,000 over the next eight years, according to a December 2003 report in the “Asia Wall Street Journal.” Singapore doesn’t plan to stop with MBAs, information technology and engineering degrees, however. Plans have been announced to lure foreign preparatory and specialty schools teaching everything from music to fashion design to cooking. Indeed, some experts told the newspaper that competition in the $1.1 trillion global education field is already too crowded.

Hong Kong calling

International students comprised 82 percent of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s full-time 2003 MBA class, coming from Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. Some 829 students are enrolled (179 fulltime, 650 part-time) at the School of Business and Management’s Water Bay campus in Hong Kong. Of that number, 318 are women. The average age is 31. For the graduating class of 2001-2002, 80 percent were employed within three months of graduation with average starting salaries of $48,000, according to Peterson’s Guide to MBA Programs. HKUST offers both full-time and executive MBAs structured around a broad base of general management skills. Recognizing a growing demand from MBA graduates to pursue a Master of Science program in a specialized business area to strengthen their competitiveness, the school offers two dual-degree programs, an MBA/MSc in Information Systems Management and an MBA/MSc in Investment Management. Since its official opening in October 1991, HKUST claims to have established itself as “an intellectual powerhouse, energizing the city’s transformation into a knowledgebased society, and securing a place on the academic map in record-breaking time.”

Well-paid Japanese jobs practically guaranteed

The International University of Japan’s Graduate School of International Management is proud of its inclusion in “The Economist’s Global Top 100 Business Schools,” as announced in October 2004. IUJ, offering a two-year residential MBA program and a one-year Master of E-Business Program, has been in the top 100 for the last two years and placed 84th in 2004. It is the only Japanese school that made the ranking and fifth among only eight business schools listed from Asia and Australia. In recognizing its particular strength in job placement, the magazine ranked IUJ third in number of jobs three months after graduation and 30th in opening new career opportunities.

Dean Chet Borucki said IUJ is perhaps the only graduate program in Japan offering Americanstyle job placement services. In fact, IUJ has a very strong record with 95 percent of its graduating class of 2001-2002 securing employment within three months of graduation. Their average starting salaries were $64,661, according to Peterson’s Guide to MBA Programs. Also according to the guide, 134 students are enrolled (all fulltime) at the campus in Minami Uonumagu. Of that number, 28 are women and 97 international students. The average age is 28.

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