Chinese MBAs are in the money, but are they in the frame?

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Forget US business schools, a new study suggests MBAs from China see the biggest boost to their earnings once the course has finished.

The Financial Times' 2008 MBA report found that alumni from Shanghai's Jiao Tong University and Beijing's China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) land the biggest salary increases upon graduation - 177% and 157% respectively.

By comparison, graduates from a big name like the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School came in at 132%, while Columbia Business School was on 144%, London Business School 126% and Harvard 119%.

Morgan Stanley, UBS and Barclays have all recently snapped up CEIBS graduates, points out the director of the school's career development centre, Clara Tan.

"In recent years, CEIBS has seen a clear increase in the percentage of our MBA graduates who take positions in the financial services sector. The sector attracted 23.4% of MBA alumni in CEIBS' most recent graduating class, up from just 10.7% hired into financial services in 2004," she says.

The China International Capital Corporation is also a regular recruiter, she adds.

MBAs and other postgraduates make up about 20% of UBS's hiring in the region and will commonly go into investment banking, fixed income currencies and commodities and equities, says Matthew Henderson, the bank's head of campus recruiting in Hong Kong.

But while he concedes Asia Pacific business schools are coming more into frame and that UBS, like many, is strengthening links with schools such as CEIBS, having an MBA from a well-regarded US school under your belt still speaks volumes.

"We seek to attract talent from all over the globe, regardless of individual university or business school," he explains.

"That said, historically the US has been a strong source of talent for the Asia Pacific region, both for undergraduate and MBA students, and this trend looks set to continue," he adds.

Gary Lai Wai Keat, head of front office recruitment at recruiter Robert Walters, agrees that an MBA from Wharton, Columbia or Harvard will still probably open more doors than one from a local business school, however well regarded.

"The banks still very much look at the branded schools, so [that means] in America schools such as Wharton or, if you are coming from India, places such as its Institute of Management (IM)," he says.

But he adds: "If you come from a very, very good Asian school then the banks will probably still take a look."

An MBA from Beijing's Tsinghua University or Peking University would probably be looked on positively, as would one from Shanghai's Fudan University School of Management, he argues.

Similarly, India's IM has strong links with Singapore, while Melbourne Business School's MBA programme is also well regarded.

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