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University of Chicago MBA Follows the Market to Hong Kong


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13th President of University of Chicago Robert Zimmer (Photo credit: Eric Guo)

13th President of University of Chicago Robert Zimmer (Photo credit: Eric Guo)

Starting in 2014, new students who want to attend the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business in Singapore will instead have to go further north to Hong Kong. The school has announced it will relocate its elite executive MBA program much closer to Chinese students.

University president Robert J. Zimmer noted that “Asia is a critical region” and explained the move as a means for growing “engagement” in the area.

Students who already attend the Singapore campus will be able to finish their degrees, but new students will no longer be accepted. The Hong Kong campus will open its doors in July of 2014.

The University of Chicago is not the only U.S. college fleeing Singapore for Chinese territory. The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and New York University’s Tisch School of Arts recently announced their own exit from the South Asian island nation, the latter citing budget problems. UNLV, for its part, said it wants to continue shopping around in the Asian market.

‘Tremendous Popularity’According to the Wall Street Journal, one-year business and finance degrees at the graduate level have seen “tremendous popularity” recently among international students seeking a competitive edge.

China’s business and finance industries are expanding rapidly and so is the number of workers who want a slice of the pie. To get an edge in this environment, Chinese men and women are increasingly looking for the kind of name-recognition that American business programs can provide.

Such credentials give job applicants a boost with many multinational companies. Young Chinese entrepreneurs are also interested in exposure to Western business culture, as well as English-language proficiency and post-graduate jobs.

High Demand at-Home and Abroad
While American students’ passion for MBAs has chilled in recent years, international demand for these same credentials has exploded, and Chinese students are at the forefront. The Journal reports that numerous B-schools in the U.S. have seen major shifts in the demographics of applicants and incoming students.

Despite raising unexpected student diversity and communication issues, the influx has been welcomed by B-schools strapped for cash. Those with existing international campuses—like the University of Chicago’s renowned Booth School of Business—are ramping up overseas to meet this upsurge in demand on China’s home turf.

Singapore officials expressed regret at the University of Chicago’s departure, calling it a “negative impact in our quest to be an education hub to attract and keep world-class schools here for longer.”

The city-state has set a goal for the number of international students it would like to attract—150,000 students from abroad by 2015. Singapore may not be able to meet its benchmark, however, in the wake of these setbacks.

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