THE TREND TOWARDS global partnerships has been picking up steam. The full-time MBA programme offered by the University of Hong Kong initially targeted students from the mainland, but has been attracting a growing number from Europe, India, South Korea and the United States. It has created partnerships with two top business schools in Britain and the US to enhance the learning experience of all students. 'The HKU MBA full-time programme is the only MBA in Asia [that] has partnerships with [the] London Business School and the Columbia Business School [in New York City],' MBA director Chris Chan said. 'Students will spend eight [to] nine months in Hong Kong for core courses, which [will] have a very strong Asia-focus. Then the entire cohort is guaranteed to spend three to four months in either London or New York to study electives with their MBA and EMBA students and build high-level networks that will be accessible to them after graduation.' Dr Chan said the arrangement was more than a mere 'semester abroad'. 'This is not an exchange programme, as the entire cohort of students will study at London Business School [or] Columbia Business School to derive maximum benefits from the London/New York experience in terms of education, exposure and networking,' he said. Exchange programmes with overseas business schools have been an important component of the full-time MBA programme offered by the School of Business and Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) from the beginning. K.C. Chan, dean of the School of Business and Management, said: 'We saw globalisation coming in 1991 [when the university was established].' For this reason, half the undergraduates have the chance to study abroad at one of many partner institutions around the world. Students at these institutions can also study at the school's campus in Clear Water Bay for one semester. When HKUST decided to launch an executive MBA (EMBA) several years back, a key decision had to be made. Should the school go it alone or partner with an overseas business school? A partnership was forged with the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in the US, one of the world's premier business schools. 'This was a significant milestone for us,' Professor Chan said. 'When you put HKUST and Kellogg together you are not diluting [either one of] them, but building something stronger.' This is borne out by the fact that the Kellogg-HKUST joint programme has been ranked higher than Kellogg's stand-alone programme by the Financial Times for two consecutive years. The newspaper cited as one of the programme's key strengths its commitment to internationalism, as reflected in the makeup of students and faculty. The Chinese University of Hong Kong was the first university in the territory to establish a business school, setting up a full-time MBA in 1966. A part-time programme followed in 1977 and an EMBA was added in 1993. Reflecting the growing trend towards global partnerships, the university was one of five institutions on four continents to launch a joint programme - OneMBA - in 2002. Integral to the alliance are four-week residencies in Europe, Hong Kong, Latin America and the US. Partners include RSM Erasmus University in the Netherlands, the University of North Carolina in the US, the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico and the Fundacao Getulio Vargas de Administracao de Empresas de Sao Paulo in Brazil. As the first institution in Asia to offer a doctor of business administration, the Graduate School of Business at Hong Kong Polytechnic University has also entered into partnerships with an impressive list of institutions. Included are the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland, the University of British Columbia in Canada and the University of Rochester in the US. Judy Tsui, dean of PolyU's Faculty of Business and director of the Graduate School of Business, said: 'We share the same core values with these schools. 'We are offering the highest academic award there is and we want to partner only with the best. 'We are interested in quality, not quantity.'