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Dean's Corner: The Rise of B-Schools in China, and the Implications

By Shu-hsing Li

At the eastern edge of Great China, Taiwan is a unique place where Chinese and Western cultures converge and interact. During the last few decades, prior to the rapid economic rise of China's east coast, Taiwan was commonly known as the most important entry point for the West into the Chinese region. Using the same language and sharing similar value systems and communication methods. Taiwan has played an important role in China's economic development by consistently ranking among China's top five trading partners. Taiwanese companies are adept at penetrating China's domestic market (beyond first-tier cities) and are far more effective than many Western corporations. Students studying at the heart of Asia's high-growth commercial zone embrace increased opportunities for growth, professional development, and unique educational experiences attributed to the evolving economic climate.

The tremendous growth of the Chinese economy has created high demand for well-trained managers, causing many middle managers, executives, and business owners in China to go back to school to seek business education. Although managers make up a small percentage of employees, the significant size of the Chinese population comprises a large number of students applying for part-time EMBA programs. This trend began nearly 10 years ago and is predicted to continue. The high tuition rates of EMBA programs provide schools with the resources required to improve and grow their programs, and many major business schools in China have achieved AACSB Accreditation. If this momentum continues, China will have several world-class business schools in 10 years.

The increased and anticipated growth in business school development has also had a positive influence on Chinese economic development, with additional benefits to both domestic and international business schools as many executives choose to stay in Asia to pursue graduate business degrees. With this increase in wealth, many parents in China can now afford to send children overseas to pursue business degrees. And, while these trends may help business schools in the short-run, there comes a time where Chinese students will stop going overseas for degrees, due to a promising job market and the opportunity costs associated with going overseas—a phenomenon being witnessed in Japan and Taiwan. At the same time, local quality business schools will compete with American or European schools for local and worldwide students. When this happens, Western business schools may experience a decline in the number of students in their programs. As a result, some Western business schools have established campuses or developed partnerships with business schools in Asia.

Taiwan's education system relies heavily on policy established by the Ministry of Education (MOE). Therefore, tuition, curriculum, number of student intakes, faculty hire, and faculty salaries are guided by the MOE policies and are key factors influencing the education system, its process and related outcomes. One of the major challenges currently facing business schools in Taiwan is that of faculty compensation, which has been far less competitive than business schools in the United States, Europe, Singapore, and Hong Kong. As a result, there are limitations during the recruitment and employment process, and a low retention rate for outstanding faculty; although NTU is less affected because of its local reputation and influence. Despite recruiting many excellent faculty members from the U.S. during the 1990's, the supply of quality faculty has gradually declined due to the noncompetitive salary for business school faculty under the government regulation. This situation is further challenged by the high-quality job opportunities in industry for business majors, which deters talented students from pursuing PhD programs either domestically or overseas.

In the past, education in Taiwan was always considered as a local business—universities were here to serve the local citizens. Therefore, tuition for national university is extremely affordable, at approximately 900 USD per semester. However, globalization has awakened the government to encourage universities to enter the global arena by initiating "Aim for the Top University Program" from MOE. The globalization of business schools in Taiwan has become a top priority in recent years, and all business schools are facing the challenge of how to implement their own globalization strategies. Specific challenges include the recruitment of international degree-seeking and exchange students, the quality and number of English-taught courses, how potential culture clashes between international and local students should be handled, and administrative and academic support for non-Chinese speaking students. The approach of MOE on globalization provides a short-term special fund to a few selected universities, but not to deregulating education. In the future, if the government is able to successfully deregulate the higher education system while giving universities more flexibility, NTU College of Management would be able to successfully compete on a global scale with the existing top-notch faculty.

The college has been actively cultivating the movement of curriculum changes and international activities through a number of different efforts. For example, the college has increased the number of English speaking and writing classes to meet international standards, and several dual-degree programs, such as NTU-Fudan EMBA Program, have been implemented to connect with global academic activities. Collaboration has also been an important step in supporting these international efforts, with the development of the Global CEO Program in partnership with Wharton, Oxford, and Peking University in 2012. The college also provides a grant to encourage faculty and PhD students to attend international conferences and conduct joint research with overseas scholars, and has established the National Taiwan University Management Internship Program, comprised of 36 international or local well-known companies providing 249 internship opportunities for students in 2011. Through such comprehensive training and education, the graduates of the College of Management are well-prepared to become leading professionals in their future careers.

Not only is globalization important to NTU, but there are many ways in which the University has positively contributed to the local economy. There are a number of NTU graduates holding influential positions in government offices in Taiwan, and, most notably, all of the elected Presidents since Taiwan's democracy are NTU graduates. As government figures, our graduates hold key positions that formulate policies to shape the local economy and lead the country's development. In addition, many government officials are NTU's adjunct faculty or full-time faculty on leave.

Perhaps most importantly, many College of Management faculty members are appointed by companies in Taiwan to participate on their board of directors and business committees. Alumni also play an important role in economic development, and many alumni of NTU College of Management are top leaders in Taiwan industry. Currently, there are more than 2,500 EMBA alumni influencing Taiwan business and society—a unique situation that few, if any other business schools in the world can reference as an influential power toward its country.


Shu-hsing Li
Dean and Professor of Accounting
College of Management
National Taiwan University