Lower cost courses attract foreigners from Brics and Africa

Miatta Momoh believes in miracles. At least that is how the Londoner describes the unlikely way she wound up on the MBA course at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management.

Ms Momoh had been made redundant from a UK digital publishing house, where she had been a client services manager, and travelled to Beijing to visit her mother, who works there as Sierra Leone’s deputy envoy to China.

While out sightseeing she spotted an advert for Guanghua’s MBA programme, went for a tour of the campus and applied on the spot. “The MBA at Guanghua was a direct answer to my prayers,” Ms Momoh says.

“The programme emphasised going beyond management, beyond academia, which really appealed to me as someone who was ready for my next new challenge.” Ms Momoh says.

Her goal now is to use the contacts and skills she learns on her MBA to try to launch a digital media agency in Beijing focused on the Chinese and African markets.

Business education in China is growing fast, but the proportion of overseas students on programmes is still tiny, especially compared with MBA intakes at business schools in Europe and the US.

Total MBA applications increased for all but one of the 12 Chinese programmes surveyed for this year’s business school applications report by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the management education data provider and consultancy. However, only 3 per cent of the 22,083 hopefuls were born outside China.

In the UK, by contrast, 90 per cent of the applications for MBA courses this year were foreign nationals, according to GMAC.

A lot of the overseas students in Chinese institutions have come because they are citizens of fellow Brics, the acronym for an association of five emerging market power houses: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Others come from countries with whom China hopes to build trade links through its One Belt, One Road infrastructure and trade initiative.

MBA tuition costs are relatively low at Chinese schools like Guanghua. which charges Rmb188,000 ($28,000) for its full-time two-year programme, compared with a top western school such as Harvard, which this year raised the cost of its headline tuition fees to $72,000 per year of its full-time two-year MBA. Harvard offers scholarships, but the Chinese government also provides full scholarships to attract overseas students from target countries to many of its top MBA programmes.

That government assistance has helped Asithandile Nkatha, who moved from her…

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