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Brand power marks out competition

By Ian Grayson for CNN

Students in Asia have a growing choice of business schools offering executive education.


FT's Executive MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Kellogg, U.S.
3. Chicago GSB, U.S.
4. Stern, NY, U.S.
5. Fuqua, Duke, U.S.
6. Hong Kong UST, China
7. Columbia, U.S.
8. Instituto de Empresa, Spain
9. London Business School, UK
10. Tanaka, Imperial College, UK
Source: Financial Times 2005



Executives taking the top EMBA courses in the U.S., Europe and Asia have average salaries of around $130,000 to $200,000.

A typical EMBA student is likely to be aged in the early 30s, with 6-10 years of working experience.

A top EMBA course can cost $100,000. Customized courses start at a few thousand dollars.


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(CNN) -- As competition for executive education students intensifies in Asia, business schools are relying on a mix of brand and reputation to differentiate their offerings.

On one hand large European and U.S.-based schools are enticing participants with their pedigrees of solid academic curriculums and histories of producing highly successful graduates.

On the other, regional schools are pushing their knowledge of local markets and tailored programs as their key selling points.

For students, an increasingly important factor in their choice of which school to attend is the image that school has in the market. All degrees and qualifications, it seems, are not perceived to be equal.

Dean of European business school INSEAD's Asian campus, Hellmut Schutte, agrees that brand perception is very important for schools. For those who get it right, the rewards are strong student enrolments and healthy profits.

"We differentiate through branding and the quality of what we offer," he told CNN.

"We are by far the most expensive provider of executive education in the region. But just as you have five-star hotels and pay their prices, so we provide five-star quality in what we do."

Others, such as the London Business School, are using their close ties with local universities as their key differentiating factor. LBS has created a program in conjunction with Hong Kong University whereby students move between China and the UK.

Director of the school's MBA program, Julia Tyler, says LBS hosts students from the region at its UK-based campus.

"We're hosting a handful this year and then between 50 and 60 each year after that," she says. "Asia is a very important market for us and we are watching developments there carefully."

Meanwhile, regional universities are offering focused courses designed with the specific requirements of local business executives in mind.

One example is the China Europe Business School. With facilities in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, the school offers a range of targeted courses including a Chinese expatriate program.

This three-day course, which costs $4150, is designed to provide an intensive introduction to the challenges of conducting business in China. Participants receive instruction in Chinese business practices, legislative requirements and marketing techniques.

Another example is the range of offerings at the Asian Institute of Management, based in Manila. The school's executive education department conducts a range of courses including Human Capital Management in Asia, Marketing Strategy, and Managing Family Corporations.

The latter course, designed specifically with the large number of family-owned companies in the Asian region in mind, covers topics such as conflict management, family theories and the management of power transitions.

Educational experts in the Asian region believe such focus will allow local universities and business schools to flourish, despite the growing competition from international rivals. By using their understanding of the unique requirements of regional business, they will be able to ensure their offerings match market demands.

INSEAD's Schutte believes the executive education market will continue to expand in the Asian region, with international schools co-existing with their local rivals.

"I believe we will see a similar evolution as the one seen in the legal profession," he says. "There you see a cluster of very large firms and a range of smaller, niche players."

Schutte predicts there will eventually be around 10 truly global providers of management education. Others will form alliances or focus on the specific requirements of their domestic markets.

"We might even see the establishment of the equivalent of the Star Alliance in the airline industry," he says. "Students could then sign up with one of a range of schools around the region and be confident of the standard of instruction they would receive."

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