HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — While in the West, a Executive Masters of Business Administration degree can help your career, but in China, it can land you in prison, or so fear many business leaders at state-owned firms.
The trouble started in July, when the Chinese Communist Party’s top personnel agency issued a strict prohibition against members of “the leading cadre” attending any “highly-priced training program.”
According to recent reports, the order has led to a wave of drop-outs by government officials and executives from state-owned enterprises taking courses at China’s most popular business schools.
This, as state media criticize the many “enormously-expensive” EMBA programs as becoming the hotbed for power-for-money deals.
EMBA class sizes have suffered a “significant shrinking” over the past couple months, China National Radio quoted an EMBA program recruiter from a Wuhan-based college as saying on Tuesday.
The programs usually cost hundreds of thousands of yuan, with some top schools charging as much as 620,000 yuan ($100,440), the report said.
China Europe International Business School, said to be one of the country’s best, had already removed the names of three minister-level officials from its EMBA class roll since last week, the Beijing Times reported, citing the school’s website.
The newspaper also said that the elite Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business has seen a wave of departures by state firms’ senior executives, which was preceded by an exodus of government officials studying at the institute.
China’s central bank has opened its spigot to a certain extent.
The expensive programs are extremely popular, with company bosses more than happy to pay a large tuitions to “build up contacts” with powerful classmates from the same circle of government and state-owned enterprises, the Beijing Times said.
In the case of government and state-firm officials, the government picks up the tab, it quoted Wang Yukai, a professor at Chinese Academy of Governance, which serves as a training center for senior civil servants and executives.
In an editorial comment appearing at the bottom of its report, China National Radio said many the EMBA programs have become a “de facto vanity fair” for the rich and powerful, and even a “haven for corruption.”
The prohibition is “a good start to purifying the relationship between politics and business,” the party-run People’s Daily said in its own commentary Wednesday. “We hope the fire of reform will flare yet higher,” it said.