[photopress:MBA_BusinessWeek_china_bschools_2.jpg,full,alignright]For BusinessWeek to run a major article on the exit of Western Business Schools from China is remarkable. We have mentioned this set of facts once before. It is worth alluding to again because it is a very important story — American universities offering MBAs in China are bailing out as fast they can. Soon there will only be a handful left where, at one time, it seemed there would be thousands.
The article does not ask the obvious question: why the gold rush of the American business schools in the first place? Was it some sort of John Frum Cargo cult aberration?
The report in BusinessWeek deals with it step by step in a dignified, non-finger-pointing manner pehaps wisely leaving the interpretation to the reader.
Cass Business School in London started a joint executive education program with the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2004 and has had about 80 students graduate from its two-year program. It closed operations in February citing problems with the government approval process required for each new class of students.
Walter Hutchens, a professor at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., who has served as a consultant to U.S. universities setting up ventures in China, calls executive education ‘a field of broken dreams.’
The article says the biggest problem is that relatively few Chinese have the requisite language skills to handle an all-English curriculum. And with the cost of these programs averaging $50,000, companies send only those with real potential. Then there is the home-grown competition: thirty Chinese universities are now authorized by Beijing to provide executive MBA programs.
Patrick Moreton, managing director of the program offered by Fudan University and the Olin School of Business of Washington University in St. Louis, said, ‘I’ve done the math several different ways, and I always get the same result: It’s a really small market.’
[photopress:MBA_BusinessWeek_china_bschools_4_1.jpg,full,alignright]The China Europe International Business School, CEIBS, a decade-long collaboration between the European Foundation for Management Development and Shanghai Jiaotong University, says it has temporarily closed its Beijing outpost to concentrate on its bigger program in Shanghai.
The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and the University of International Business and Economics have also suspended their five-year-old Beijing operations.
SUNY Buffalo, worked with Renmin University of China to launch the country’s first executive MBA program in 1998. SUNY ended the joint venture in 2004. Now it’s running a customized executive MBA program for Motorola employees.