Shantou University-A Rising Star with Great Potential

Between 24-26th December, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director of QS Intelligence Unit was invited to visit Shantou University, the only university funded by Sir Li Ka-shing, the richest  person in Asia( based on 2014 Bloomberg Billionaires Index), with a net worth of $31.9 billion.

(Sir Li Ka-Shing spoke at the annual graduation ceremony of Shantou University)


Here is an update of her visit.

I have envisaged many times in dreams to visit Shantou University. When I actually visited it, I would certainly say it is far beyond any expectation, although in a different way.

I have been a big fan of Sir Li Ka-shing since the first time I read about his story, but not by how successful he is as a business leader, but by all the great virtues he has demonstrated throughout his career as a kind and humble man. I got to know Shantou University when I was watching a documentary of Li, when 1/4 of the documentary was talking about the tremendous efforts made by all stakeholders to create Shantou University in 1981 and develop it into one of the most enterprising and emerging university in Shantou, a less-well developed coastal area of Southeast China.

Shantou was one of the original Special Economic Zones of the People’s Republic of China established in 1981, but did not blossom in the same manner that cities such as ShenzhenXiamen and Zhuhai did.  I guess when Shantou University was first created, Li Ka-Shing would expect Shantou University to seize the great opportunity of the newly established Special Economic Zone and develop quickly. However, the overall economic development in Shantou has not been that quick as expected. This also impact on the development of the university.

(A picture of Shantou Special Economic Zone)

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What drives decisions of a 21st century MBA applicant?

Education and career decisions are too important to leave to chance.

Through the MBA events QS runs, we can tap into a huge pool of potential MBA applicants. We used this opportunity to run a survey accessing 987 respondents to find out how they research information that influences their decision-making process.

Interestingly, respondents were mostly young, with 22-27 year-olds providing 60% of the responses, and there were significantly more male than female respondents. To appreciate the gender imbalance when it comes to the appeal of different programmes, one just needs to take a look at the table below:

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Preliminary results from the 2014 QS Applicant Survey

The QS Applicant Survey 2014 is one of the largest surveys of its kind. It gives valuable insights about the thoughts and aspirations of applicants pursuing an MBA or postgraduate degree. It is compiled by QS, the world’s leading higher and business education specialists, and distributed globally to over 10,000 potential applicants that register for the various QS education fairs held around the world. The results depict a clear picture of the status, attitudes, goals and ambitions of applicants, and how they, and the employment and education markets for young professionals, are changing.

The 2014 survey acquired over 9,000 responses across Masters, MBA, PhD and EMBA applicants. Preliminary results draw interesting comparisons among applicants from Western Europe and US & Canada. 39% of survey respondents are interested in Masters Programs, 62% were drawn towards the MBA programs and 16% of respondents registered an interest in the Executive MBA programs.

chart 1_2014 preliminary


75% of the applicants from the US & Canada intend to apply for MBA programs. This is in line with the traditional popularity of MBA programs among American students. On the other hand, MBA programs attract 46% of the Western Europe applicant pool. Executive MBAs are more attractive to candidates from Western Europe, with 20% of the applicants indicating an interest in the program. This observation is another example of the rising popularity of Executive MBA Programs. They offer flexibility with increasing travel opportunities. However, traditional Masters Programs still hold their ground in Western Europe, the proportion of applicants is marginally higher than the MBA.


chart 2_2014 preliminary


The gender trends in both regions are equally varied. The chart above presents the current expectations for male and female applicants. There’s a wider gender gap among Western European applicants in comparison to their American and Canadian counterparts.

Once the survey is closed later this year, final results would be interesting to examine. In today’s quick changing environment, trends can change quickly.

Primary motivations for pursuing an MBA among applicants from emerging economies

The recently published QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2013 provides a detailed insight into the attitudes, goals and ambitions of MBA applicants.  The global motivations for pursing an MBA program vary depending on the age, gender, economic status and the current years of work experience.

The main motivations for pursuing an MBA as listed by potential MBA applicants are improving career prospects, learning new skills and taking up a leadership/management position.
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Motivations for pursuing an MBA degree

The 2012 Applicant Survey attracted more than 4,500 prospective MBA applicants. The results provide detailed insight into the status, attitudes, goals and ambitions of MBA applicants worldwide and how they, and the employment and education markets for young professionals, are changing. This survey allows valuable insight into the changing trends of worldwide MBA applicants.

Global motivations for taking an MBA are still dominated by the desire for career progression and to learn new skills, followed by attaining a leadership position. However, as we delve into regional responses, the results draw very interesting contrasts. The older demographic of respondents to this year’s survey selected fewer options as they are likely to have a clearer picture of why they want to gain an MBA. Read more