People looking to enrol in MBA programmes often have expectations of expanding their international networks. One programme provider is determined to meet such expectations.
"More than half of our students come from regions outside greater China, such as Brazil, Japan and the US," says Chris Chan, associate professor, assistant dean, and director of MBA programmes, faculty of business and economics, the University of Hong Kong.
The programme attracts international students with a strong Asian focus and who value Hong Kong's unique position as a gateway to mainland China, the largest marketplace in world.
Aside from this, the programme provides students with real international experience through strategic partnerships with world-renowned institutes.
"Our programme puts students in the heart of global business by offering them opportunities to study and build networks in four first-tier world cities, namely London, New York, Shanghai and Hong Kong," Dr Chan says.
Full-time students are guaranteed opportunities to study at the London Business School, Columbia Business School in New York or Fudan University in Shanghai, for three to four months. In contrast to brief excursions, they are invited to fully integrate into overseas communities as regular students and take full advantage of all social and academic facilities. "Students are rewarded with alumni status and certificates upon completion, and no doubt, these can build a cornerstone for their career in international business," adds Dr Chan.
According to Dr Chan, a quality MBA programme should focus on application and soft skills development.
"Classes should acquaint students with different viable business models and help to understand how a particular business decision is achieved through case studies and discussions," he notes.
Founded with the philosophy of practical business application, the programme is supported by the Asia Case Research Centre (ACRC), which develops practical business case studies by consulting corporate experts.
"Our research-led teaching framework keeps students abreast of emerging business branding strategies, crisis management practices and financial developments," Dr Chan states.
"Moreover, the essence of business is communication. Our MBA programme is about the application of studies, rather than just knowledge acquisition," Dr Chan notes, adding that the programme includes courses that cover team building, leadership, creativity and business communication.
Fruitful communication requires language skills and cultural sensitivity. To enable students to practise such skills, the programme incorporates a four-week study trip for intensive language training every July.
"Students who don't speak Mandarin take classes in Beijing, and the native Mandarin speakers come to Hong Kong for English classes," Dr Chan explains.
With an emphasis on programme practicality and the China market, many of the programme's courses are taught by industry leaders, encouraging students to develop the ability to take into account the strategic, legal and cultural perspectives in the business arena.
"Students are invited to visit mainland Chinese companies and take field trips to rapidly developing cities such as Guangzhou. They take part in executive briefings and tour corporate operations to gain exposure to real business environments," says Dr Chan.
"Hong Kong has a rich business and entrepreneurial heritage, acting as a vibrant value-added station in between mainland China, Europe and the US. The city attracts international business elites because the whole business world is watching China," Dr Chan says.
In addition to the programme's design, teaching quality is essential to helping students develop practical business acumen. He adds, "We invite senior management from multinationals to pass on their valuable experience to our students. We call it a 'golden ratio' —3 0 per cent of our faculty members come from industry, with the rest of them from academia, combining theoretical insights with applied knowledge."
The HKU faculty members come from a diverse range of backgrounds and have engaged with corporations and public organisations at top management levels. Frederick Ma, a former top official for commerce and economics, is among the team.
The full-time programme lasts 14 months, while it takes two to four years to complete the programme in a part-time mode.