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University of Chicago Moves Asia M.B.A. Program to Hong Kong from Singapore

University of ChicagoThe University of Chicago is moving its M.B.A. program from Singapore to Hong Kong to take advantage of the degree’s fast-growing popularity in China.

High demand for the business credential in Asia, particularly from Chinese nationals, is proving to be a boon for North American and European universities that have set up Asia-based programs in recent years to take advantage of the rising interest. Nearly 60,000 Chinese citizens took the main test to get into business school in the 2011-2012 testing year, about triple compared with four years earlier.

Students who have already started or will begin their M.B.A. studies at the Singapore campus of the university’s Booth School of Business this fall will be able to complete their programs in the city-state, while new candidates will be attending classes in Hong Kong starting next June.

The Singapore campus, which opened in 2000, won’t accept any more executive M.B.A. candidates. It will continue to offer executive education and as well as recruiting and alumni services.

The business program’s structure will be essentially unchanged, with students enrolled in the Asia Executive M.B.A. program still spending three weeks in Chicago and a week in London, while M.B.A. students based in London and Chicago will spend a week in Asia, but in Hong Kong rather than Singapore.

The university, after consulting with staff, decided to move the campus as it was seen to afford more opportunities for students, alumni and faculty to develop relationships across Asia, a spokesman said.

“The proximity to China, the world’s second-largest economy, is particularly attractive,” the school’s dean, Sunil Kumar, said in a statement.

Hong Kong’s proximity to mainland China may have been seen as a liability when the University of Chicago decided to set up in Singapore just a few years after the United Kingdom government handed Hong Kong over to the People’s Republic of China, in mid-1997. Singapore was and is largely seen as a stable patch of Asia, although it has been criticized for policies that impose limits on free speech, most recently with a decision to tighten rules governing news websites.

Gerard Postiglione, director of the Wah Ching Center of Research on Education in China, said Hong Kong offers several advantages, including a strong business community but also academic freedom.

The Hong Kong program will launch at a temporary location. The government has conditionally approved a campus on Hong Kong island, but it won’t be ready for classes by next June, partly as several more stages remain in the approval process.

The University of Chicago has had a center in Beijing since 2010 that offers classes for students studying abroad and connects the university to local businesses and scholars. It doesn’t offer an M.B.A.

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