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Are You A Westerner Considering An MBA In China? Here's Why You Should Make The Move

China is the world’s third most popular country for international students. Li Wei, MBA director at Beijing’s CKGSB, says if you want to do global business, you need to know about China


By  Elle Ayres

Mon Nov 12 2018

China is currently the third most popular destination for international students, according to a recent GMAC report, and is anticipated to become the second most popular destination, with 500,000 international students expected by 2020.

The demand for international students in Chinese b-schools has never been so high and with a buzzing economy, which continues to innovate and develop, it’s a prime time to go East for your MBA.

The lifestyle change may seem daunting to Westerners, but moving to China for your studies can open up a whole world of new business opportunities, according to Dr Li Wei, professor of economics and academic director of the full-time MBA program at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) in Beijing.

He thinks that MBA candidates need to take serious note of China’s economic progression:

“The Chinese economy has grown into the second largest economy in the world and is important for the international audience and potential MBA applicants now more than ever,” he says.

“It’s important to realize that, whatever business you do, it’s very likely that part of your value chain is China-based or China-related. So, understanding how the Chinese economy and businesses world work is becoming a prerequisite to doing global business.”

The Full-Time MBA at CKGSB provides China-insight to internationals through a China-savvy faculty who have experience teaching at big-name business schools in the US and Europe. Within China, some former faculty are in chief strategy roles at high profile companies like Alibaba.

China’s presence in the international markets is one of the main reasons why studying an MBA in the East is so advantageous.

Studying in China—Li Wei says—provides insight into a differently paced and orientated way of doing business, and equips candidates with an expanded worldview crucial to success in global business ventures.

Richard Coward

Speaking in an interview with BusinessBecause for the podcast series, The Business School Question, Richard Coward (pictured right), founder and CEO of China Admissions—an online service aiming to provide support for international students wanting to study in China—agreed on this point: “China-knowledge opens up the world,” he says.

He thinks Western students should take into account how much cheaper it can be to study an MBA in China and research the abundance of scholarships on offer to internationals. The CKGSB MBA costs $59,000, compared to some US MBA programs which can cost over $100,000 for one year of tuition alone.

“There’s a huge demand for internationals in China. The job market is very competitive but, as a foreigner, your advantage is your international background because global expansion is big in China right now.”

This rapid pace of this expansion is one of the “main advantages of studying in China” Li Wei affirms.

“With such rapid increase, there are lots of changes which are very different to development in the US and Europe. For example, with the Internet-based economy, China developed very quickly in this area.

“The internet giants, like Tencent, have touched everybody’s lives in China. WeChat has made payment system so much easier; allowing Chinese consumers to bypass the use of credit cards and just use their mobiles to pay. These kinds of changes, new business strategies, and development models, are unique to China.”

More than half of alumni from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB)—including Alibaba founder Jack Ma—are at CEO or chairman level, and collectively they lead one‐fifth of China’s most valuable brands.

International students who have invested time and effort into learning the language and culture—something which Richard assures “isn’t as hard as people imagine!”—will benefit.

Rory Bate Williams

Rory Bate-Williams (pictured above) is a prime example of a Westerner who has flourished since graduating from CKGSB. Inspired by what he’d seen of China’s startup scene, he founded his food company Voodoo Chicken & Spice back home in the UK.

Speaking to BusinessBecause in January, Rory said he chose CKGSB because of the strength of its alumni and faculty. “I loved professor Li Wei's macroeconomic course that incorporated aspects of psychology, history, and the study of human nature into the syllabus,” he said.

“My highlights came from my CKGSB MBA classmates, who showed never-ending hospitality; taking me on trips to their home provinces and to karaoke every time there was an excuse to celebrate!

“Business is all about people, and I knew that access to this unparalleled alumni network would give me a head start.”