Monday, April 13, 2015 at 4pm

MIT Sloan’s Malaysian Expansion

MIT Sloan establishing MBA program in Malaysia through Asia School of Business

Now just three months away from the launch of its first MBA admissions process, MIT Sloan has been speaking about its hopes for Asia School of Business (ASB) – the institution it has established through a 10-year partnership with Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia.

“Our intent is to create a world-class school of management in Southeast Asia,” said Charles Fine in a press release. Fine, who has been teaching operations strategy and supply chain management at MIT Sloan, has been appointed as Asia School of Business’ founding dean.

In establishing an international reputation from Malaysia’s federal capital of Kuala Lumpur, ASB’s main competition in Southeast Asia will come from Singapore, where three of this year’s top five business schools in Asia-Pacific are currently located, according to the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report 2014/15.

But, in harnessing MIT Sloan’s existing reputation and approach to the full-time MBA, ASB will be hoping to offer something different. It also promises a focus on the emerging opportunities and challenges in the region that is home to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), an organization that counts both Malaysia and Singapore among its founding members alongside Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines:

“Every class that we offer and every lecture that we give will be intimately connected with the companies and institutions in the region so that students emerge with a deep understanding of the business, political, and economic issues that come to play in ASEAN and beyond,” Fine said. MIT Sloan’s dean, David Schmittlein, reiterated this point as fundamental to the school’s establishment:

“We view the founding of the ASB as an opportunity to help shape the next generation of leaders in this rapidly-developing region,” Schmittlein said. According to recent ASEAN figures, its 10 current member states would represent the world’s seventh largest economy, if taken together.

Asia School of Business’ full-time MBA to launch in 2016

Tuition fees for Asia School of Business’ first full-time MBA class have been set at US$40,000 each year for the two-year degree, putting it on an approximate par with the total cost (S$55k, which equates to just over US$40,000) of Nanyang Business School’s one-year program. The fees at ASB, however, do include the offer of accommodation at a residential complex belonging to Bank Negara Malaysia. Indeed, Malaysia’s central bank will also house the full-time MBA program’s teaching until ASB’s own campus can be constructed.

The inaugural class is expected to number around 30 students and will get going in September 2016, with applications accepted from July 2015. A minimum of two years’ prior work experience is recommended, but has not been labeled as a prerequisite. 

The program itself will draw from MIT Sloan faculty; again, until a full independent faculty can be established at ASB - although a handful of residential professors have already been appointed, including Abigail Tay, formerly attached to Columbia University’s economics department. To aid the development of a highly-regarded faculty at ASB, MIT Sloan plans to host new appointees for a semester to provide guidance on teaching and research practices, as part of its international fellow’s scheme.

Meanwhile, within the curriculum of ASB’s full-time MBA, there is provision for the students themselves to spend four weeks at MIT Sloan – during which time they will partake in an action learning project with their MBA counterparts in the US. A further two weeks of the ASB program has been allocated to industry visits outside of the ASEAN region.

For, just as a global perspective is seen as essential for MBAs wishing to work for North American companies and organizations, the same must be seen as true for emerging leaders in the ASEAN region. Speaking on Malaysian television in February, Fine explained that MIT Sloan’s desire to collaborate on a new institution in Malaysia would ultimately aid its own worldview, and described Asia School of Business as representing “the next stage in the evolution process of MIT's understanding of the global world.”

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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