Mandarin or an MBA?

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Any kind of investment in further study requires careful consideration, particularly one that might come at a price, be that financially or in terms of time. There are economic arguments on both sides.

Data from the FT’s latest MBA rankings has shown that MBA graduate pay has doubled during the last five years, during a downturn. And 94 per cent of alumni surveyed by the FT said they had achieved the pay rises they had hoped for when they enrolled.

While we can’t so clearly link the return on investment from studying Mandarin, there are obvious opportunities for the property sector in China.

The real estate sector has been an engine for the Chinese economy, with housing prices in the biggest cities soaring by twenty per cent between August 2012 and August 2013. This overheating has seen Chinese investors snap up UK property investments, taking advantage of the weak pound and a recovering property market.

But things are rarely as simply as money in and money out. As politicians in China debate how to prevent the housing bubble from bursting, and signs of an economic slowdown in the country emerge, business schools like MBS are looking at how they can provide students with MBAs that will help them succeed, regardless of market conditions.

If you are looking to work in China, or work with or for Chinese companies in the UK, then being able to speak Mandarin may well be a useful skill. But learning a new language alone will not be sufficient if your ambition is to work at executive level – where you’ll need to get to grips with complex business issues.

Our full-time and global part-time MBA programmes give students the opportunity to take courses in China. We have a campus in Shanghai, alongside those in Sao Paulo, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, meaning they can immerse themselves in business worlds outside of the UK.

An MBA offers students much more than something that will look good on a CV.

If you’re looking to acquire the kinds of skills you’ll need in the boardroom, be that in South America, Europe or Asia, then an MBA with an international business school could well be the right choice.

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Professor Elaine Ferneley

Elaine is the MBA & MPA Director at Alliance Manchester Business School and regularly comments around business education and MBA programmes in the media. Her research interests are in the area of technological innovation and change.

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