Asian business schools are entering the big leagues, giving western establishments a run for their money as students seek exposure to Asia’s growing economy and bet on increased job prospects. Lisa Yuriko Thomas reports.
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Think business school and Harvard - Stanford - Wharton - may come to mind. But watch out, there's a new game in town - Asian MBAs. Take Hong Kong University of Science and Technology - it's ranked number 6 in the world by FT's global MBA rankings - up from 16 in 2009. That's because it offers students what plenty of other schools cannot - experience in one of the world's last bastions of buoyant economic growth -Asia. And that means jobs. That's what brought 34-year old Alexey Astafev from Russia to do his MBA here, helping him land a promotion to deputy director of international business at Russian Railways. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION DEPARTMENT, RUSSIAN RAILWAYS, ALEXEY ASTAFEV, SAYING: "I was precisely looking at Asian schools because i wanted to proceed with my Asian direction". It also helped fellow graduate Jacqueline Wong transition into the sales/trading floors of an investment bank. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RECENT HKUST MBA GRADUATE, JACQUELINE WONG, SAYING: "A lot of our professors who had experience in Asia - could give us really what is different and how to actually be successful." It's not just HKUST - school officials say Asia-based MBA programs like Shanghai's CEIBs has seen steady interest from Western European and North American applicants. Also rising - the number of exchange students fighting to get to Asia. INSEAD's Singapore campus has seen the number of enrolled students jump 32% in the past two years Steven Dekrey, Associate dean of HKUST's MBA program, says more exchange students want to come to Hong Kong than he has students to send. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENIOR ASSOCIATE DEAN AND MBA PROGRAMME DIRECTOR, HKUST, STEVEN DEKREY, SAYING: "If you know MBAs, they're opportunistic, right? They chase positions, jobs, opportunity, and growth. MBAs are looking for their future career. If you watch the economies, you're going to find the growth is in Asia." Some recruiters say Asian-based MBA programs still have a long way to go to be ranked on-par with top tier elite schools. But, Anna Sampson, head of human resources for Asia at Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets says doing an MBA in Asia could give a leg-up to landing a job. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF HUMAN RESOURCES FOR ASIA PACIFIC, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, ANNA SAMPSON, SAYING: "I think it's definitely a competitive advantage, yes." And in an uncertain economic world - that may be more than enough to send potential business students from the west heading east. Lisa Yuriko Thomas, Reuters.
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