[photopress:royal_roads.jpg,full,alignright]First, a small mystery. When this story appeared in the Vancouver Sun the first sentence read: ‘Royal Roads University is leading the way to China adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod.’ There was some thought that Latin had been used to complete the sentence but it is not a Latin known of by scholars. Probably someone hit the wrong key on the computer.
The story suggests that homegrown Chinese MBA schools are emerging with an edge to rival the cachet of Western MBA schools. This is not an easy proposition to defend.
This year, Royal Roads University (RRU) based in Victoria, British Columbia, awarded 700 MBA degrees to students who studied, via affiliates, in more than 20 cities across greater China.
Royal Roads runs a lot of its domestic courses through online learning with some personal instruction, but the programs in China are delivered in a face-to-face classroom environment. Royal Roads University was founded in 1995. Accreditation is not a term that generally applies to universities in Canada but it is authorized to grant degrees as a Canadian public university by the Province of British Columbia through the Royal Roads University Act.
What is a slight worry is when you read the notes on qualifying to take the courses: ‘Through flexible assessment, our Admissions Committees will look for the equivalent of undergraduate learning through a combination of post-secondary education plus work and life experience.’ The phrase ‘life experience’ has acquired a bad odor through its use by somewhat suss degree mills.
This admissions process, however, of looking at a student’s prior learning, is one which is used by many institutions. According to RRU, data has shown that students admitted in this way perform at a slightly higher level than those admitted by a more traditional process.
Royal Roads University has awarded something around 2,000 MBA degrees to students in China. It has a campus in an Edwardian-era estate in Victoria, and, judging by the pictures, looks quite the article.
MBA course material developed there has been translated into Mandarin and delivered by way of China-based affiliates such as the Tak Ming Institute of Management in Shanghai.
This is run by Mathew Cheung who has expanded the Royal Roads MBA franchise to Chengdu, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Xian, Hefei, Hangzhou, Nanjing and the list goes on.
There are four other affiliates but Tak Ming is the oldest and largest of Royal Roads’ partners and recently passed the 1,000 mark for degrees for students in China.
Royal Roads started its program in 1999. Steven Grundy, associate vice-president of international studies at Royal Roads, said in an interview, ‘Most schools use China as a recruiting ground to bring students [to North America]. Ours is a different strategy that was more opportunistic than anything else to start with. It was clear that there is a hot market in China and that the Chinese government wouldn’t mind if students were developed there.’
Other Canadian institutes are following this lead. North Vancouver-based Capilano College is in the first cycle of running a four-year undergraduate business program for mainland Chinese students in Harbin.
Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops just graduated its second class of business students in Tianjin. Its first class of 120 students in a similar program in Shanghai have just graduated.
So where does Royal Roads fit in compared to, say, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing?
Cheung of Tak Ming said: ‘Schools like Cheung Kong target the CEOS, the titans of industry in China, the high-fliers. The Royal Roads program is about training the middle and upper managers below these, and there are lots of them.’
Source: The Vancouver Sun
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