The Covid pandemic changed this, however, making inward bound study challenging due to travel restrictions.
But today it’s a different story. Hong Kong dropped virtually all restrictions and reopened for business in the latter half of 2022. In that time, the value of listings on the Hong Kong stock exchange rose four times higher than in the previous half of the year, while everyday life also largely returned to normal.
So is Hong Kong back to being a top MBA study destination? BusinessBecause spoke with two students on the MBA at HKU Business School—Hong Kong's top-ranked MBA degree—to find out why you should consider studying in Hong Kong in 2023.
1. Life in Hong Kong is returning to normal
Sandwiched between a picturesque seafront and towering cliffs—great for hiking—lie the tightly packed streets and skyscrapers of Hong Kong.
Its unique landscape and reputation as a dynamic and enterprising city have drawn both tourists and expats for decades. But Gita Sundaresan wasn’t sure she would be able to experience any of what Hong Kong has to offer when she enrolled for an MBA while restrictions remained.
“I was a little cautious about the timing because I knew that Hong Kong is a great place,” she says.
A Singapore native, Gita’s husband had recently moved to Hong Kong for work and she was keen to enroll in an MBA program in her new home. She joined the HKU MBA program in late 2022, and those worries shortly melted away.
“It’s definitely a more comfortable environment we live in now, we are not really affected,” she says. “We attend classes in person so day to day is not affected, we go on public transport, we go to restaurants, it’s all pretty much back to normal.”
2. You can interact with people from diverse backgrounds
With a return to normality, Gita is enjoying life as an MBA student in Hong Kong.
One particular highlight, she says, is the opportunity to interact with a diverse mixture of people—the 2023 HKU MBA cohort comprises 93% international students from more than 20 regions across the globe.
A variety of group workshops, practical team projects, and in-class discussions ensure interaction between classmates and help you build strong connections, she explains.
“It’s been eye opening, especially in terms of having really good cross-cultural discussions.”
The cross-cultural nature of the program has also been a highlight for Kennus Ho, a Hong Kong local who chose to enroll in the HKU MBA to expand his understanding of global business.
“I can learn new logic and thinking methods from my other classmates because we have a very diversified group,” he says. “You can then integrate everyone’s thinking together and that can give you a more globally oriented mind.”
3. You can increase your cultural understanding
One of the key draws for students looking to study in Hong Kong has always been the blend of cultures that’s present both inside and outside of the classroom.
Across Hong Kong the dominant languages spoken are Chinese, and English—the language of the HKU MBA. The city houses traditional Chinese as well as Western Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Take a trip to a local cafe or food market and you’re just as likely to find a British egg tart or cup of tea, as you are fish balls or wontons.
“Hong Kong has got that blend of East and West, it can be quite unique,” says Gita.
At HKU, the MBA teaches from the perspective of these alternate cultures. Core modules cover business with either a Chinese or global outlook. Electives such as ‘China Business Environment’ and ‘Global Marketing Management’ allow you to delve further into these cultural nuances.
To gain practical insights, students have the opportunity to study one semester at partner business schools on specialist tracks titled: New York, London, or Hong Kong/China.
The culturally diverse experiences on offer can have a large impact on your career opportunities, Gita thinks.
“It [the MBA] can set us up for leadership opportunities in Hong Kong or, for those who want to move out, they can also apply for jobs in New York or London.”
4. You can access exciting career opportunities
Each year HKU MBA students embark on roles across the globe. The class of 2021, graduating job locations included Europe and the Americas. But the majority of students opted to remain in Asia, with 72% securing jobs in Hong Kong.
They entered high-flying careers across several industries. The most popular were consulting, financial services, and technology, with the school’s career services offering connections with local recruiters from top global employers such as Boston Consulting Group, JP Morgan, and PwC.
Gaining access to the wide variety of career opportunities housed in Hong Kong was a key driver for Kennus when choosing where to study his MBA.
“One of the reasons I wanted to do this MBA is because Hong Kong is a good place to get into your career, because there’s always been so many opportunities,” he says.
“We have almost 100 years of this history as a place where it’s open for people to win in business.”