Mainlanders reap rewards of studying in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 August, 2005, 12:00am

THE DECISION TO enrol in full-time MBA programmes in Hong Kong is paying off for students from the mainland. They are attracted by the reputation of the city's business schools, their internationally oriented teaching staff, their links to multinationals and the chance to improve their English.

The payoff comes at graduation, with lucrative job offers from multinationals on both sides of the border.

While the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has always had at least a few mainland students in its full-time MBA programme, the numbers started increasing about four years ago when visas to study in the SAR became easier to obtain.

'Of the 18 graduating this year, 12 are staying in Hong Kong, accepting jobs at companies such as American Express, UBS, Bear Stearns and Watson Wyatt,' Steven DeKrey, associate dean and director of MBA and EMBA programmes at HKUST's School of Business and Management, said, adding that they had been offered starting salaries of nearly US$50,000 per year. Of the six returning to the mainland, about half had found jobs in finance, earning salaries of about US$25,000.

The same thing is happening at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Enrolling its first mainland students in 2002, the school has been attracting a growing number of applications from the mainland each year.

'They get the international exposure they could never get in China,' said Sachin Tipnis, marketing manager of HKU's Faculty of Business and Economics.

'The first batch all went home. The 15 mainland students graduating last year found jobs working for Chinese banks, multinationals and local firms - all at good positions.'

This year's graduates are doing even better. 'They are all in the process of final interviews and salary negotiations,' Mr Tipnis said. 'Three or four have already found internships, and we expect 10 to 15 of them to get jobs in Hong Kong. It would be impossible for them to get offers from multinationals if they went to a mainland business school. Even if they go back, they will get better job offers at better companies if they did their MBA in Hong Kong.'

The city's oldest business school, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has always had a small number of MBA students from the mainland, many on scholarships provided by local companies. The numbers have grown substantially over the past three to four years, and mainlanders now account for about half of full-time enrolment.

They are now also paying their own way. 'Most are interested in finance or consulting so that is where they find jobs when they graduate,' Cheung Wai-man, MBA programme director at Chinese University, said. Studying in Hong Kong offered mainland students many advantages, Professor Cheung said. The teaching was better, they got more international exposure and they got to improve their language skills.