News & Voices

Peking University & University College London’s new joint-MBA

Competition in the future will be that of talent – this is a global consensus. Competition of talent has largely transformed into competition at universities – in the words of one educator, the best talent are those taught and chosen specially. Because of this, whether one wants to be the best university or to have the best university program, both good professors and good students are important, but both depend on the same thing: a good brand. Perhaps due to this, branding between top schools is now becoming the trend.  

Peking University’s joint program with UCL is the latest case in point. During this reporter’s interview, there was a seminar on this latest MBA program and, in stark contrast to those of second-tier MBA programs, this event was fully subscribed.

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From the beginning of September 2017, many of those attending will be fortunate enough to become members of the first cohort of Peking University National School of Development & UCL’s joint MBA program.

For Peking University, the leading force of the program is Peking University National School of Development (“NSD”), which not only has 20 years’experience in its own Sino-foreign MBA program, but is also a leader in China’s University think-tanks. The NSD faculty includes world-renowned economists such as Justin Lin, Zhou Qiren, Zhang Huiying, Song Guoqing, Yi Gang, Wang Dingding,

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Partnering with UCL in the MBA program is a new venture for NSD and even Chinese MBA programs – this is significant not just for the NSD, but also UCL.

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As the NSD’s current Dean, Yao Yang played a key role in promoting the program. During his interview with the Economic Observer, he expressed his expectation for the partnership: ”UCL is an elite school amongst elite schools in the UK and its management education has a very strong sense of innovation and entrepreneurship. It is great that we have the opportunity to partner in this program and I am quite excited.”

Dean Yao Yang is not exaggerating in calling UCL an elite school amongst elite schools in the UK. Whilst it is not well-known to many Chinese, UCL is part of the elite G5 universities in the UK alongside Oxbridge, Imperial College and the LSE.

Both sides reached a strategic cooperation agreement on the 3 November, 2016, after which the joint MBA plan was slowly finalised. The NSD and UCL Management School have continually pushed this project forward in an orderly fashion.“We communicated very well and effectively – both sides were very keen on working together. Peking University and the Ministry of Education were very supportive, especially as this is a partnership between the best universities in China and the UK respectively – the significance is extraordinary.  


”Yao Yang said:”Although both sides are working things out, there will be two things to watch in the future. First, students graduating will gain an MBA issued by UCL, whilst having the opportunity to gain a Peking University recognised degree if they pass a national exam. Second, whilst the majority of teaching will take place in the NSD, UCL will send professors to teach and we will organise at least one semester for students to study, exchange and experience the entrepreneurship atmosphere in London.

 “I believe this partnership is incredibly significant”. Peking University BiMBA Joint Dean John Yang said. We can emphasize a win-win, complementary partnership – UCL’s open, tolerant attitude and emphasis on practice and results in the field of innovation is something we can learn from.

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He told the Economic Observer that there was a profound consideration behind the choice of partnering with UCL: London is an open, tolerant city; through this partnership we can see and understand innovation and its results that stem from a multi-faceted, tolerant society, not just in the commercial sector but also in art, culture and museums.  We can learn from the UK’s strength in benchmarking management, management consulting and management in rule making.

It is understood that the joint MBA program will include a full-time and part-time option, lasting 16 months and 28 months respectively. It is expected that the first cohort will consist of approximately 100 students who will spend the majority of courses in Peking University, whilst optional entrepreneurship classes will be undertaken in London. Half of the courses will be taught by NSD professors and the other half by UCL ones, and the program will be taught entirely in English.

”During these last 2 years, candidates’ expectations in career development and transition have been very high and the appetite for innovation and entrepreneurship very strong. Candidates from SOEs and POEs are growing, particularly in part-time classes. Previously, 70%-80% of students came from foreign owned companies, but now the proportion from SOEs and POEs are growing – now it’s 50% foreign enterprises, 30% POEs, 15% SOEs and 5% government officials.”

When MBA Meets ‘National Think-tank’

The majority of this MBA will take place in the NSD’s Langrun Garden and students will first encounter a top-class national think-tank.

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Peking University National School of Development’s history began in the 1990s and it was previously known as the Centre for Chinese Economic Research (CCER). Prior to the CCER’s establishment by a team of 6 led by Justin Lin, Langrun Gardens was an exquisite royal garden full of legends. It was once not only the royal residence of Grand Prince Yi Xin, but also the Cabinet Department of Military Affairs in the late Qing Dynasty. Today, this ancient garden is fresh and beautiful, its style undiminished – indeed, as a meeting place for noted economists, it is all the more glorious.  To quote NSD Professor and BiMBA Dean Chen Chunhua’s address to BiMBA students: As long as you are here, you will meet intellectual challenges, you will deepen your knowledge, gain an abundance of thinking and a feeling of responsibility.

Yao Yang said: “You will not find another place in the country with so many famous economists.” In the last 20 years, aside from the six founders Justin Lin, Hai Wen, Yi Gang, Zhang Weiying, Zhang Fan who are still active in teaching, Western-trained economists such as Zhou Qiren, Song Guoqing, Lu Feng, Liu Guoen, Lin Shuanglin, Zhang Xiaobo, Wen Weifang, Yao Yang and Huang Yiping have joined the faculty.

From 1998, the NSD began its sino-foreign MBA program, BiMBA (Peking University International MBA), which later became known as Peking Universtiy National School of Development BiMBA Business School.
From its establishment in March 1998, it has been a forerunner and leader in the field of sino-foreign MBA programs. Its unique position as top national think-tank has supported its partnership with its foreign partners including Fordham Business School, Wisconsin Business School and the 20 plus US business school association as well as Europe’s Vlerick Business School.

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”Our MBA teaching is not independent of the overall teaching system – indeed; it is an important part of cross-disciplinary education.” According to Yao Yang, the NSD’s structure is similar to that of Harvard University’s Kennedy Business School in that it is comprehensive with Economics at its heart, combining management and political sciences. “We not only cultivate academic talent, but also political and economic management talent in our integrated teaching system.”

BiMBA business school offers MBA small class courses, full-time international MBA courses and exclusive career development services which are highly favoured by Fortune 500’s Greater China middle-upper management. It has featured six times in Forbes China’s ‘Best MBA School’ rankings – the NSD’s part-time MBA has been named no. 1 on five occasions; in the latest edition, the full-time MBA remained at no. 2. In the QS Global 250 Business Schools Report 2017, BiMBA Business School was once again ranked no.1.

 “After 20 years’teaching, we have been ranked as China’s most valued Business School.” Yao Yang told the Economic Observer: “One of the most important metrics is post-graduation salaries for full-time students is 2-3 times higher than pre-MBA – this reflects the recognition the marketplace places upon our academic program. Marrying knowledge and action is our consistent school concepts; the majority of our graduates are professional managers who understand not only theory but also have solid experience.”

Famous entrepreneur Liu Chuanzhi once gave this evaluation: BiMBA Business school is one of only a handful in China that can bring together the macro and micro outlook as well as train and cultivate talent – it has a unique position amongst China’s business schools.

When MBA Meets British Science & Technology

Aside from Peking University’s strength in Humanities and the NSD’s strength in economic & management, this program also brings the strength of British Science and Technology. 191 years ago, following the footsteps of the first Industrial Revolution, a globally recognised elite university, University College London (UCL) came into being, representing Britain’s scientific research and economic strength. UCL’s global standing can be glimpsed in a few figures: UCL’s research strength is top in Europe; its academic articles are 2nd most cited in the UK; it’s ranked no.7 in the QS Global University Rankings; no.3 in the Europe University Rankings. Of its 648 professors, 46 are Fellows of the Royal Academic Society, 10 are Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, 55 are Fellows of the British Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences, 99 are Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences. There are 32 Nobel Prize winners and 3 Fields Medal winners, including the ’father of the telephone’, Alexander Bell, and Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore.

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As London’s first open university, it was the first to break from the bonds of ethnic, religious and political beliefs and is recognised as a pioneer of British education. It was the first university in England to admit female and male students on an equal basis, in a similar fashion to Peking University, which opened the first public university in China for both male and female students.

During his interview with the Economic Observer, UCL School of Management Deputy Director, Alan Parkinson, said that UCL is a practical and innovative university, the first to offer places to students of any ethnic and religious background. “From a historical perspective, UCL has carried this practical and innovative gene, and has given these characteristics to the new era of entrepreneurship and UCL School of Management.”  

Situated in the center of London, UCL’s main campus in Bloomsbury is close to the British Museum, British Library and Regent’s Park, fitting for the ‘most valuable University’. The old financial district is full of an atmosphere of history and legacy and has been seen as London’s heart On 1 August 2015, the UCL School of Management was officially established on the 38th floor of ‘One Canada Square’ in today’s new financial centre in the ‘Square Mile’ in Canary Wharf.

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What is interesting is that this landmark building’s top floor, the 39 level, is Europe’s entrepreneurship centre.  “UCL’s decision to locate on the 38th floor, was, to a great extent, so that students could interact with the entrepreneurship centre. This is a very distinguished location.” Wang Xin told the Economic Observer that UCL School of Management also has its own incubator and future Chinese students can partake in related entrepreneurial projects.

”Whilst UCL School of Management is very young, it is already at the cutting edge of research. It is not only focused on theoretical teaching, but is based on company research, using the most pioneering corporate practices for research, and then using these results to teach. These research results have attracted the attention of companies, which corresponds very well with the NSD’s research methods”,Professor Alan told the Economic Observer.

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If it is said that the NSD can widen and further students’ outlooks, UCL can help students develop focus and a rigorous approach to study.  Peking University Dean Lin Jianhua and UCL Dean Michael Arthur expressed: We are very happy to see our relationship growing. We are committed to improving innovative excellence in research-led education for the benefit of mankind.

Partnership Opens New Journey in the Coming Decade

After 20 years’development, BiMBA Business School is set to enter its third decade. In its first decade, based on the needs and trends of international companies for local talent, BiMBA Business School brought real American MBA programs into China. From 2008-2017, BiMBA fulfilled the need for international resources  in realizing a Sino-American-European Business School alliance, whilst creating its own unique characteristics – providing a prospective analysis of macro issues and cultivating leaders.

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According to Wang Xin, from 2017, Dean Chen Chunhua will lead BiMBA into a decade of ‘Marrying action with knowledge, and Chinese with Western knowledge’, to better suit its international ideals. “One aspect is that students pay most attention to large POEs and SOEs that are expanding abroad, and we give students maximum exposure to these companies and the opportunity to partake in innovative projects. We realise a dual-track mentorship – human resource mentoring and alumni mentoring. We have recruited human resources managers from China’s top 100 firms as HR mentors and invited experienced alumni from across industries as alumni mentors. This year we aim for 100 mentors, or one for each student.”

She told the Economic Observer that whether on branding, resources or teaching quality and global service, this partnership with UCL is a combination of two optimal resources. “This marks a new stage in our Business School’s development.” As Professor Alan mentioned, “UCL’s data analysis, business technology, innovation and entrepreneurship and other fields of strong disciplines complement very well with Peking University.”

John Yang said to the Economic Observer, as a Peking University program, BiMBA Business school has always been a leader in its field. We must always focus on the development of the country, not just the business school – when pulling the cart, we must look to see the road ahead. We must look at China from a global perspective, to see it from a unique perspective.

In the past 20 years, BiMBA Business School has been a leader in sino-foreign partnership and after its partnership with UCL, this advantage will be further strengthened. Students will not only be leaders in China, but be highly competitive on the international stage.

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In the coming decade, particularly following Dean Chen’s appointment, 2017 will see a peak in sino-foreign cooperation and will be a new beginning for the combination of knowledge and action”said John Yang.

The combination of knowledge and action requires the alliance of strengths, this time not between universities, but between theory and best practices. John Yang told the Economic Observer, “Dean Chen Chunhua is an academic in China’s commercial area – an entrepreneur-academic, a ‘doer’. We believe she will lead teaching in the combination of knowledge and action, integrating the MBA and EMBA programs with practice.” In the past, BiMBA has had courses in Sun Tzu’s Art of War,  famous battles in the Chinese civil war and West Point Academy courses, the kind of course that will bring immense value to students.

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John Yang explained, quite frankly, “We not only emphasize fundamental professional knowledge, but also promulgate the cultivation of leaders with character, conduct and morality  - students must have the correct disposition, they must have dreams, they must have a resolute spirit and boldness.” Of course, this is the biggest starting point for the Peking University & UCL MBA Program.

Resource:The Economic Observer  
Reporter: Dong Ruiqiang