The almost unlimited potential of the China market is recognised far and wide, but before even putting a toe in the water, it's essential to learn everything you can about local practices and the prevailing business environment. The University of Hong Kong has therefore put together an Asia-specific MBA programme with just this in mind.
"The course is specially designed for professionals who want to learn about international business, particularly in the context of China," says Chris Chan, associate professor and programme director.
A part-time course on this general theme has been on offer for around 30 years, but in 2002 Dr Chan decided to take things further. The first step was to partner with Shanghai's Fudan University to send students to Hong Kong for a one-year full-time programme. When that went well, Dr Chan looked for ways to add further international elements to meet the growing demand for courses relevant to global business.
"Students from the mainland choose Hong Kong for further study mainly because they want to get more international exposure," he says. "To make this possible, we also reached agreement with London Business School (LBS) for HKU MBA students to complete electives there, which will give them a chance to study in Europe."
The aim is to provide an interactive and practical learning environment for finance, entrepreneurship, marketing and international business. "We hope our students can integrate and network with students from 50-plus countries at LBS, who are professionals from world-famous companies," says
Dr Chan. He notes that the Financial Times has recognised London Business School as offering one of the top five MBA programmes worldwide.
He also emphasises that networking is one of the keys to succeeding in business. "To a certain extent, it is still about who you know, so we hope to be able to open a few doors for our students," he says. This year, 40 places on the programme were available for 300 applicants. All those accepted will start to study in Hong Kong in July and go to London in March 2007. The next planned step is a new partnership with Columbia Business School in New York. It has a reputation for excellence in finance and banking, with Wall Street being "just next door".
Applicants for the HKU programme are expected to have at least three years' full-time work experience, a minimum GMAT score of 590, and a strong academic background. The 14-month course costs HK$280,000, though some scholarships covering up to 50 per cent of tuition are available. "We will continue to update the curriculum to keep pace with the changing business world," Dr Chan says.