Students at an MBA programme run by the School of Economics and Finance at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Shanghai's Fudan University learned more than the usual core subjects in business, accounting, information technology and management. They also had an unexpected lesson in entrepreneurship. 'When I signed up for the programme I wanted to get a higher salary and a promotion at my company,' says Michael Zhan, an account manager at Dupont Textiles and Interiors Trading (Shanghai). 'But now I feel differently. I think it's better for me to set up my own business. There are a lot of opportunities to run a successful business in China.' Of the 140 students who graduated from the programme last month in Shanghai, at least seven have already set up their own businesses. A further 50 are thinking of doing the same. Some of them - like Mr Zhao - will set up these businesses with partners they met on the course. 'The programme built my confidence,' Mr Zhao says. 'It helped me develop my communication and presentation skills. It taught me how to look at things from different angles. It taught me how to run a business by myself.' Johnson Zuo, vice-president, operator and media alliances, at mobile2win, which develops software and content for Siemens, worked in the hi-tech sector for nine years before enrolling in the programme. 'I needed more tools to advance my career and to prepare myself to meet the challenges arising from globalisation and privatisation,' Mr Zuo says. Tracy Cui, who was a deputy section head at the Bank of China, left her job to study full time last year. She is now in the second year of the two-year programme. 'I think the most important thing I wanted was to develop a network,' she says. 'Everyone around me used to talk about figures, balance sheets, profits and loans. I wanted to broaden my horizons by interacting with people from different industries as well as with people doing different jobs.' Most of the MBA programmes launched on the mainland in recent years are taught in Putonghua. Why would students opt for a course that is not only taught in a foreign language but also is offered in conjunction with a Hong Kong-based school? One of the key considerations is the chance to leverage the combined strengths of two of the top business schools in the region. Another is to tap into Hong Kong's traditional role as China's window on the world. 'HKU is very well known for finance and marketing throughout Asia,' Mr Zuo says. 'Fudan is also a top Chinese university in these two fields.' Ms Cui agrees: 'I believe HKU and Fudan are the two most prestigious universities in China. In my eyes, Hong Kong is a developed and prosperous city and Shanghai is developing now. Maybe today's Hong Kong will be tomorrow's Shanghai.' Students are especially upbeat about the quality of the teaching. 'The lectures were creative and innovative,' Mr Zuo says. HKU offers a well-established part-time MBA and a relatively new full-time MBA in Hong Kong. Students studying full-time have between one and two academic years to complete the programme. Those studying part-time can complete it in two to four years.