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More US And European Business Schools Tap China's MBA Market

A legion of European and US business schools are trying to enter the Chinese education market through MBA partnerships, which they say provide students with a larger network.

Tue Nov 4 2014

Audencia Nantes is the latest European business school to tap into the Chinese business education market with a deal to launch a double-degree MBA and other programs with two Beijing-based universities.

The French business school, which has campuses in Paris and Nantes, will teach a double-degree MBA, as well as an international master’s degree and a double-degree master in management program with the Beijing Institute of Technology.

Its second partnership is with Tsinghua University’s School of Continuing Education. The pair plans to launch an executive DBA program in responsible management, and a six-month course which will see Tsinghua graduates study on Audencia’s two-year master in management course.

Audencia follows a host of European business schools which are desperate to link up with leading Chinese universities.

There has been a massive increase in the provision of business education taught in English in particular over the past year.

ESADE, the Spanish business school, last week announced plans to launch a dual-degree with the Guanghua School of Management which is based in Beijing in September 2015.

The first year of the program will be taught from ESADE’s Barcelona campus while the second year will be taught on Guanghua’s campus in Beijing. The tie-up gives students the option to learn Mandarin and Spanish.

In June London Business School and Shanghai’s Fudan University announced that they would launch a double-degree master’s in management program for pre-experience students next year.

Other European institutions, such as Nottingham University, operate campuses on Chinese soil.

US business schools are also keen to gain a foothold in the country’s growing education market.

Guanghua signed an agreement with the Kellogg School of Management, based in Illinois, to run an executive MBA program in Beijing. New York-based Cornell University’s Johnson business school struck a similar partnership with Tsinghua this summer. The pair plans to launch a double-degree MBA for finance professionals.

Another big US brand, North Carolina’s Fuqua School of Business, recently launched a program from a joint venture with Wuhan University in Kunshan, a city just outside Shanghai.

Part of the attraction is the huge market of young professionals who want a western-oriented education, according to Roy Chason, assistant director of marketing at Shanghai-based school CEIBS, the product of a partnership between the Chinese government and the European Commission.

China now attracts 8% of the 4.3 million globally mobile students, closing the gap on the US which has 11% of the world total, according to the Institute of International Education.

“The education system in China is evolving and improving,” said Roy. “As China’s professionals become more global and have more choice, they are becoming more demanding.”

However, there are concerns that western schools are setting up virtual shop windows to cash in on demand, rather than improve the education sector.

Liansheng Wu, MBA program director at the Guanghua School, said: “The impact of foreign schools on the brand value of Chinese business schools is certainly a vital consideration for all involved.” But he added that he considers the increase in western schools in China an opportunity to strengthen Guanghua’s brand and global sights.

Audencia wants to diversify its class, like many business schools do. By striking deals with Chinese schools, it offers a base from which to recruit Asian students and an opportunity for its French students to visit China.

Its aim is to recruit 50% of its students from outside France by 2015.

Desi Schmitt, director of international relations, said: “Living abroad and studying abroad gives the student a perspective of another country’s way of teaching, seeing problems and solving problems. We know how to do that and we see that it’s not enough.”

An additional strategic deal exists with Tongji University in Shanghai and the French school says it plans to expand its international partnerships.