Manchester targets mainland
EVERYONE IS TAPPING the China market, but the University of Manchester in Britain is doing so for a strategic purpose - building its reputation in China is crucial to its goal to be among the world's top 25 universities by 2015.
'I think we are in the top 50 now. One of the ways to move up is by having an international reputation and you only get that by having extensive connections with areas of the world that are focusing on their international connections. That's what China is,' said Ken Green, the academic dean of the university's business school.
Manchester Business School rose to 22nd place in the latest Financial Times global rankings of full-time MBA programmes, up from 44 last year.
It is represented in a string of cities through its offshore centres where workshops and tutorial sessions are held for students enrolled in its part-time MBA programmes. About 300 students from East Asia, which includes South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and the mainland, attend classes and form study groups at the centre in Hong Kong. Among them are mainland professionals who go on scholarships.
The school also runs a part-time bachelor of science in management programme in Hong Kong in conjunction with the Vocational Training Council.
Professor Green takes pride in the international mix of the students and the strong alumni network in New York, Singapore and London.
Worldwide, the business school has an alumni base of 20,000. He said that the networks in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen were not as active due to the small alumni base, but they would grow under Manchester's plan to offer part-time programmes there through collaborations with mainland institutions. The university had a clear commitment to its future mainland partners, Professor Green said.
'The only way you can ensure you have useful, proper connections developing the China market, whether it is arts, business or engineering, is to have a substantial reputation as a university that is staying. [This helps] people know they are linking with a top-quality university in Britain and that we have a strategy that says even if the student numbers fluctuate, we are not going to pull out and go to other countries.'
His school is enacting a new strategy 'which involves looking at the expansion of teaching arrangements with and in China'. Tsinghua University, with which it has student exchange agreements, was one possible partner, he said.
Manchester University recently established a Centre for Chinese Studies. It has one of the biggest Chinese student populations among British universities, now numbering 1,400.
Professor Green is confident that his school's MBA programmes, whether delivered on the home campus or through distance learning, can meet the burgeoning need for trained business professionals in the mainland economy. Their international content, emphasis on real-life problems and experiential learning serves the business environment well.
'Our orientation is towards bringing together this underlying theory of business management practices with practical applications. That's what we call the Manchester method we started in the 1960s,' Professor Green said.