Asian B-Schools Target Western Students

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST Full-Time MBA Profile), Asia's top-ranked graduate school of business, has joined with three rivals to raise the schools' visibility in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. They aim to draw additional Western candidates to Asia to earn MBA degrees.

The Hong Kong university will recruit jointly with the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS Full-Time MBA Profile) headquartered in Shanghai, the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business, and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU Full-Time MBA Profile), according to a statement released on July 19.Officials from the institutions will travel together to North America and Europe, give joint presentations, and maintain a common website, www.topasiabschools.com.

Asia's universities are trying harder to compete for master's of business administration students with U.S. and European institutions led by the London Business School (LBS Full-Time MBA Profile), the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (Wharton Full-Time MBA Profile) in Philadelphia, and Harvard Business School (Harvard Full-Time MBA Profile) in Boston. The Asian allies aim to create a brand—Top Asia B-Schools—that can generate the sort of cachet associated with the Ivy League, said Nick Soriano, director of marketing and admissions at Nanyang, in an interview.

"There's the Ivy League in America, so we thought: 'Why can't we Asian business schools do the same kind of thing,'" Soriano said. "Even though we are very much each other's competitors, we thought we can all work together in trying to attract and convince people to come to Asia for their MBA."

The Ivy League consists of eight institutions in the northeastern U.S., including Harvard.

The robustness of Asian economies may help the four institutions convince Western students that studying in Asia can advance careers, said Nunzio Quacquarelli, managing director of the QS World MBA Tour, a series of events for business school applicants. The tour is organized by London-based QS Quacquarelli Symonds.

"Asian business schools are becoming more relevant, and there are a number of factors that make them attractive now," Quacquarelli said in an interview. "The likelihood of these four schools having success in recruiting Western candidates is very high."

China's domestic economy advanced 10.3 percent, year-over-year, in the second quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. India's economy expanded 8.6 percent in the first quarter, the latest period for which a figure is available, compared with growth of 2.4 percent in the U.S. and 1.6 percent in Germany.

The Asian business schools use English as the language of instruction, which appeals to students from the West. Without disclosing base figures, the Hong Kong and Singapore universities said their Western applications have doubled in the last five years, even before joint marketing commenced.

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