Join in China: The future of MBAs

The focus on executive education

  • 4th September 2018

It's back to school month already. September, for many of us, will trigger memories of trying on a slightly bigger uniform, dwindling daylight hours and a slight chill in the air (whether in the classroom or otherwise...). But education is for grownups too, and it doesn't come much more iconic than the MBA.

Applications from overseas MBA students are surging:two-thirds of programmes in the UK (65%) grew their number of applications from international applicants, said the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Partly this is because of Trump (at least one thing we can be grateful for), or more specifically his immigration policies hurting US business schools, and partly this is because of the pound falling (the Brexit vote has not deterred international students).

Most overseas interest in graduate business education is coming from China and India. As we noted recently, Chinese students also form the majority of international higher education students.

Among the reasons why Chinese students are interested in signing up for a British MBA is the perception that UK education is well-known internationally with a reputation for high quality; they are keen to improve their English; they wish to broaden their horizons; and they are looking to establish links in the UK.

Further insights include:

  • China's Generation Z (young people born after the mid-1990s) are apparently demanding shorter MBAs. Short and snappy might be the way forward (the MBA programme, rather than your average Gen Z'er) to appeal to the generation hooked on 15 second Tik Tok videos.
  • The rise in business schools in China is fuelled by demand for talent from the tech industry. China has some of the most exciting tech companies in the world, several of which are now verging on household names, such as Alibaba and Tencent. MBA programmes could be designed with China's unicorns in mind.
  • Chinese MBA students in the UK have benefited from extra-curricular activities like work shadowing and company visits. Since they are also keen to develop their English, greater emphasis could be placed on participation outside the classroom. One provider offering a work-based MBA is QuoLux, who is busy disrupting the market (as you hope they might, practising what they preach). QuoLux’ practical MBA is a new qualification developed in partnership with the University of Gloucestershire’s Business School that is uniquely centered on work-based learning.

With business ties between the UK and China continuing to develop, and both governments exploring the possibility of a post-Brexit trade deal, exciting possibilities lie ahead. Could we be on the cusp of a golden era in executive education?