From next year, students entering Executive MBA programmes offered by Chinese and foreign business schools will be required to take a national entrance exam, the Ministry of Education has announced. The move aims to increase the academic standards of EMBAs and put an end to “richmen’s clubs”.
In an announcement last month, the government said EMBA programmes would no longer be allowed to admit students based on their own assessments but will be required to admit students based on their national graduate entrance exam results starting December 1.
Other regulations introduced include stricter monitoring of class attendance and performance, as well as the introduction of interviews to assess potential candidates’ suitability for the course based on personality and ability, and political awareness.
64 institutions currently have authorisation from the MOE to run EMBA programmes, but a much larger number are actually offering it
The new guidelines, which also call for improvements in teaching quality and management, as well as more reasonable tuition fees and greater oversight to how they are collected, will affect both domestic MBA and EMBA programmes, as well as joint Sino-foreign transnational education courses.
MBA and EMBA courses have become immensely popular since first being introduced by a number of institutions, including Fudan and Peking Universities, in 2002, but have not been without controversy.
“EMBA programs in China have been described as richmen’s clubs, and some institutions offering them have been criticized for alleged corrupt practices,” ChinaDaily, a government mouthpiece, reported.
In 2014, as part of an ongoing anti-corruption drive, the government banned officials, as well as state-owned enterprise executives, from using public funds to pay their EMBA tuition costs, and asked any currently studying on such a course to withdraw immediately.
Although 64 institutions currently have authorisation from the MOE to run EMBA programmes, a much larger number are actually offering the course.
These are seen by many prospective students as highly lucrative networking opportunities that are well worth the price of tuition, which can often be as high as US$100,000.
The policies will affect both domestic MBA and EMBA programmes, as well as joint Sino-foreign transnational education courses
The new policies are designed to stop corrupt practises such as awarding degrees despite low attainment or attendance, the use of overseas study trips as sightseeing tours, and even the purchase of degrees.
Allegations of bribery or other such abuses of power will be thoroughly investigated, with preparatory courses and agreements to have students begin the course before being formally enrolled banned.
Due to the nature of the announcement, questions remain over the exact nature of the implementation of these guidelines, and stakeholders say it is too early to predict the impact it might have on enrolments.
However, Pu Shiguo, an EMBA admissions advisor for Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told China Daily he anticipated an increase in admissions before the new regulations came into force, and recommended applicants apply now, as it may be more difficult to pass the incoming national exam.