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China Has a Surplus of Poor-quality MBA

Though there witnessed not a long history of MBA education in China, yet the glory that enveloped MBA has gone discolored within few years. With only a MBA laurel, one cannot obtain a high post or get in high salary any longer.

When the training and enrolling advertisements of MBA posted like scabies on the street wire poles and in alleyways of China, criticism and query on the MBA education came along tempestuously. Is there still any selling point in China' MBA education? For this reason, "International Herald Leader" had an interview with Hu Dayuan, domestic President of Beijing International MBA at Peking University.

"Situation in China is contrary to that of the world"

Reporter: At present, are there any changes in the supply-demand relations of China's MBA education market as compared to those in the past few years?

Hu: In demand, it may not be so good as before, but the situation remains stable on the whole. Now the arising problem is that the supply grows too rapidly.

Reporter: Do you think there is any change in this year's MBA enrolment as against that in last year?

Hu: There aren't many changes in the light of the situation as against that in the corresponding period of last year. Business colleges are considering the matter of their placement rather than remaining in motionless passivity. They are all developing their own unique characteristics, striving for supremacy in subdivision market.

Reporter: As for the demand of MBA education, the foreign characteristic is that, when the economy is booming, the enrolment application decreases, whereas at a time when the economy is in depression, the application for MBA study increases. Does the Chinese market also face such a trend?

Hu: There do exist such a situation in the foreign market. That is because when the economy is going downhill, some people go for education when unemployed, but when the economy gets brisk they go to work. However, in China, this must be analyzed according to the actual situation, as there is no obvious indication of prosperity or depression of economy in China. For example, is the Chinese economy in prosperity or in depression now? The purchase of cars and houses are very popular, and the investment in certain trades is very heated as well; but some other trades are left in the dark. China is always maintaining certain growth, which is different from the USA.

Another important reason is that, in the USA, business college students all pay by themselves; they pay to go for education when the economy turns to go downhill. However, this is often paid by units or companies in China. When the economy is in depression, companies often cut down expense and reduce the training opportunities; and while in prosperity, they make provisions for the future and pay for the senior staff for MBA education. China and the foreign countries are on the contrary in terms of the relationship between enrolment application and economic development.

Commercialization of MBA, the fault of us folks

Reporter: What's the selling point of China's MBA education? Is there any possibility of competing with international renowned ones?

Hu: China's business colleges cannot compete with international renowned ones at all. China's business colleges should first be aware of their statuses, and judging from the teaching staff and the makings of students, one can get to know easily that they are not on a par with the American ones, and it is impossible for China's business colleges to attract excellent American students. Of course, it is also difficult for Chinese students to be enrolled in American ones. We must realize this gap clearly, just like that we Chinese people call Peking University "China's Harvard", while the American people would not call Harvard "America's Peking University". Of course, the purpose of China's MBA education is to cultivate talents that fit for China, on this point, we own some advantages.

Reporter: How do you evaluate the present EMBA education heat?

Hu: How many regular MBA are there in China? In the USA, EMBA is a kind of "make-up lessons" for people who missed MBA education, and it is different from MBA in its structure, and is suitable for different groups of people. But in China, EMBA is misinterpreted as "advanced MBA", which is really leading astray the consumption.

Reporter: Being the most commercialized education, will MBA colleges care nothing about the students' performance after getting in the money?

Hu: It is Chinese people who commercialize the MBA education. In fact, MBA is a kind of vocational education, which is related to academic education.

There are indeed some cases of earning money regardless of the quality of learning in China, and some foreign cooperative partners worry about the appearance of the phenomenon of "selling diploma" in China. Nevertheless, it also has something to do with students' attitude. Some people, once they paid the money, took it for granted that they would get the degree. Actually, there are comparisons and elimination in business colleges. Those colleges who pay no attention to the students' performance could only earn money in a short period, and won't be able to last long.

American standard vs. Chinese situation

Reporter: What's the basis for MBA's contents of courses? How do you solve the disconnection between the things academic and the things practical?

Hu: MBA education has developed for 100 years in the USA. Although it was considered something queer by some orthodox European educators at the initial stage, but it managed to develop after all. Actually in the USA, the courses of most business colleges are very much the same. What we Chinese people should do is very easy: bring in the standard courses of the USA, and add China's "situation courses", then it will be OK. Take the basic courses of Beijing International MBA at Peking University for example, the Management Science is the same as the USA, but courses like Human Resources Management are much more valued, as Chinese enterprises are in greater need of this kind of courses.

Reporter: Do you think there is any connection between MBA education and salary?

Hu: Nowadays, there are often arguments like the decline of the salary of MBAs and the difficulty of finding a job for MBAs, but actually it is the problem of MBA, not the problem of the business colleges. Some MBAs often say "My classmate has a salary of so much", and take it for granted that they themselves ought to get the same. However, if you cannot earn fortune for the company, you will not be able to gain that amount of money at all.

What's surplus now is poor-quality MBA programs. As for business colleges, the crux of the matter is to turn out good products - the qualified students. China has a huge demand for MBA, and there will certainly be some first-class business colleges, and what counts most is to do their things well.

(People's Daily June 26, 2004)

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