Chicago school pulling MBA course out of S'pore

SINGAPORE - After opening to much fanfare in 2000, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business is pulling its prestigious executive education programme out of Singapore and setting up in Hong Kong to be closer to the booming Chinese economy.

The Hong Kong campus will start operating next year, but the school will carry on teaching the 166 students now enrolled in Singapore.

The last cohort will graduate in 2015 - which is also when the lease expires on the school's premises at the House of Tan Yeok Nee along Penang Road.

The decision followed "months-long deliberation and input from the Chicago Booth community", the school said.

"Expanding into Hong Kong allows us to have impact on future leaders in business and build new corporate relationships in North Asia," said Mr Sunil Kumar, Chicago Booth's dean and the George Pratt Shultz professor of operations management.

When Chicago Booth launched its executive MBA programme 13 years ago - the first United States school to do so here - it was seen as a shot in the arm for the local education scene. Many senior executives were drawn to its ranking as among the world's best.

Since the opening of the Singapore campus, more than 1,000 students have received their MBAs from the programme, and nearly 2,000 students from Booth's London and Chicago campuses have also spent time here.

Last year, Tisch School of the Arts Asia, the Singapore arm of the New York University film school, closed after facing funding problems.

It was one of several high-profile foreign institutions brought in by the Economic Development Board as part of its drive to turn the Republic into a higher education hub.

EDB's assistant managing director Alvin Tan said: "Singapore remains an attractive location for management education, as leading business schools continue to invest here."

Essec Business School, for example, announced the development of its independent Asia- Pacific Campus at Nepal Hill in February.

Over 300 executive MBA programmes are available here, including Insead's executive MBA (EMBA) programmes.

Insead said the class for the Asia section of its global EMBA programme has a waiting list. It plans to expand enrolment for the course in the coming years. "Singapore has clearly positioned itself as a centre for finance and many other key industries in Asia... I do not see Chicago's choice to relocate to Hong Kong as a reflection on Singapore," said Insead's director of executive degree programmes Kristen Lynas.

Chicago Booth is exploring space options in Singapore for holding classes and other activities ranging from remote teaching to seminars.

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