As the world increasingly looks towards the mainland as the future of economic prosperity and political dominance, Hong Kong's business schools are rapidly positioning themselves as the best destination for students. These schools are ideal for anyone looking for an MBA programme that can give them the kind of exposure to mainland business that courses in other parts of the world simply cannot match. Many of the city's MBA programmes offer an international study environment with a strong focus on doing business on the mainland. This is reflected in the extensive mainland business research conducted by local faculty and the design of the MBA curriculum here, which often involves a number of field trips north of the border. 'Students looking for a focus on mainland business may think about going to the mainland to study but [Hong Kong's universities] can offer more than those in the rest of China, in terms of international faculty, better student bodies and more extensive China business research,' said Michael Ferguson, associate dean (graduate studies) and director of MBA programmes at Chinese University. 'China's business schools are getting better and better, but in these terms we are still the best.' Chinese University is the world leader in terms of mainland business research, and according to Ferguson, 'our school, like the city it is in, really bridges the gap between the mainland and the rest of the world'. He explained that the Chinese University MBA programme offered students four concentration options: marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and mainland business. The mainland business option involves field study, giving students the opportunity to get first-hand exposure. As the first MBA programme to be offered in Hong Kong, Chinese University has had time to build up an extensive alumni network of senior executives across Hong Kong and the mainland. Like other local universities it has also built strong ties with mainland schools. While Hong Kong's MBA programmes have built and maintained a strong focus on mainland business studies, they have not done so at the risk of ignoring business in the wider global context. K.K. Wei, dean of City University's College of Business, explained that the future of business schools in Hong Kong would be more globally oriented, while continuing to be the key business hub in the region. 'At City University, our strategic goal is to build and sustain a reputation as a leading global business school in China, for the world.' Hong Kong's growing image as a centre of excellence for business education has been reflected in recent global university league tables, with some of the city's universities breaking in to the top 200, some rising up in to the top 100, and University of Hong Kong moving up into the top 20 of the respected Times Higher Education Supplement league table. 'That we can continue to do well in the world rankings is an indication that we are building global impact and reputation,' Wei said. 'We regard this as recognition of Hong Kong's strength as the regional hub for business education.' City University rose 23 places in the league table to 124 this year. He explained that the city's reputation as an international and finance business centre had helped its universities to attract a mix of top academic professionals from all over the world. '[This] provides global exposure to students, which helps them become more competitive in their careers. Business schools in Hong Kong are very committed to providing this sort of international environment to their students,' Wei said. The College of Business at City University is made up of about 170 academic members from more than 20 different nationalities. According to Jack Lo, director of Polytechnic University's School of Professional Education and Executive Development, a lot of good work in building an international reputation has been done not only by the Hong Kong government but also by the universities themselves and this has resulted in the internationalisation of the faculty and the student body on many of the city's MBA programmes. 'With such international programmes we are able to really raise the profile [of business education] in Hong Kong.' The demand for MBA graduates with experience of doing business on the mainland and in the Asia region has been on the rise, according to the QS TopMBA.com International Recruiter Survey 2009, and the increase in demand from employers is expected to see a further increase in demand from prospective students. 'An increasing number of entry level positions in various industries now require you to have a graduate degree,' Lo said. 'If you look at management level positions and even management trainee positions, we see that increasingly companies are asking for master's degree level candidates. This is something that was not very common in the past.' For Wei, the ultimate goals of business schools, such as City University, are not only to advance frontiers of business knowledge and develop business leaders with a broad understanding of the mainland marketplace, but also to educate leaders with a global orientation and to produce research that enriches the understanding and practice of business. 'In realising these goals, we will be able to nurture and develop talent, and contribute knowledge creation for the wellbeing of the city as a whole,' Wei said.