A First-Class UK Business Education in the Heart of Shanghai
- Nigel interviewed by Cityweekend Magazine
Since its establishment in 2008, the Shanghai branch of the Manchester Business School (MBS) has made it possible for Chinese students to receive the same prestigious business education that was once only available at the University of Manchester’s main campus in the UK. The Shanghai campus is the first MBS centre in mainland China and one of seven transnational centres overseen by MBS Chief Global Officer Nigel Banister.
With students from 140 countries, MBS has always been known for the international diversity of its student body, “but in just the last few years, we’ve gained another reputation, and that’s for being global,” Banister says. “Our reputation as a global business school is quite outstanding. We are the largest off-campus MBA program out of any UK university.”
MBS sees Shanghai as a valuable city in which to build a student base. “As we’re a business school and Shanghai is the commercial capital of China, it seemed very sensible to come here,” Banister said. “Any development in the region will certainly be based out of Shanghai.”
Students at the Shanghai centre earn the same degree as at the MBS campus in Manchester, whose Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is ranked fifth in the world in terms of return on investment by leading business magazine Forbes. “Employers know that students at our centre here are the exact same quality as at our campus in Manchester,” Banister says. “The part-time, two-and-a-half-year Global MBA program at the Shanghai centre is a practical way that a mid-career executive in Shanghai can access a world-class MBA program without leaving their job.”
The centre currently has around 850 students, mostly mid-career executives in their mid-30s. “The Chinese students we’ve been able to attract have been very high-quality, very ambitious,” Banister says. “Many of them work for top global companies already, or else the education we provide will put them in a position to take on a management role in a global company. Some are in general management but in a lower position, others are engineers or people pursing a technical career who want to move into management.”
Courses are taught by MBS’ UK faculty and run on a block schedule. “We fly in professors for long weekends of teaching, and we use technology to link students up with our administration and support staff to prepare them for the professors,” Banister explains. “We are part of one of the top research universities in the UK, the University of Manchester, which means our faculty are at the cutting-edge of their subject areas.”
Professors use the world-famous “Manchester Method,” which focuses on hands-on, practical learning. “We teach through projects, through collaboration with other students,” Banister says. “It’s learning by doing. The way that we teach prepares people particularly well to be able to succeed in global companies.”
MBS Shanghai has important partnerships with top-notch Chinese universities in the city, including Jiaotong and Tongji. The school also benefits from a Talent Management Partnership with high-profile Chinese and international companies like Deloitte, Gree, Huawei and JCB. “We basically have a club of companies that work with us to recruit candidates for new jobs as well as encourage their existing executives to go through our program,” Banister explains.
In addition, students in their second year of the program have the opportunity to travel to MBS’ other global centres, which “helps students understand a range of views and build their network of contacts,” Banister says.
The Shanghai campus currently accepts around 180 students per year, with application deadlines in June and December for the two annual start dates in January and July. “We look to take the best applicants with strong academic credentials who have already performed well in their careers,” Banister says.
While pursuing a business degree mid-career is not unusual, MBS stands out among other, more-conventional MBA programs. “It’s a traditional path all over the world, but the non-traditional bit here is that you don’t have to come to our campus in Manchester,” Banister says. “It’s unusual because there aren’t many opportunities to take a world-class business program without leaving Shanghai.”
MBS is constantly expanding its global reach and has developed a brand-new Global Executive MBA program that will start in July. Students in the program will begin their studies in the UK and go on to visit three of MBS’ global centres, including Shanghai. “The program is one step up from the Global MBA, for senior executives looking to work at the highest level,” Banister says.
Banister feels that part-time MBA programs like those offered at MBS’ world centres represent the future of global business education. “All over the world, where MBS programs are still thought of as a prerequisite for management positions, full-time MBA enrollment has been declining for years,” he says. “Meanwhile, part-time enrollment has been increasing, and that’s because schools like ours are offering an alternative that’s credible and practical. Instead of losing their executives, companies find it very encouraging to develop their domestic executives through our part-time program.”