BY the end of this year, the long-awaited ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will be a reality. The ambitious project – aimed at transforming the 10-nation Southeast Asian grouping into a single market and production base – has been years in the planning and promises to bring long-term benefits for businesses and individuals in the region.

While challenges remain, the AEC is widely expected to inject added impetus to the integration and significant rise in prosperity in the region. Already, major multi-nationals like Coca-Cola are positioning themselves to grow their portfolios in fledgling economies like Myanmar and Laos, while opportunities for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) seem boundless.

For young graduates and professionals looking to lead ASEAN’s economic development into the coming decades, a top quality education will be key. There is certainly no shortage of options among the region’s many excellent business schools. The biggest challenge, perhaps, is choosing between them. Here are five key considerations for Southeast Asian students looking to bring their business education to the next level:

1. Quality international student support

Most Southeast Asian students looking to study for a quality business degree need to do so in a foreign country. Many gravitate towards some of the excellent business schools emerging in Singapore and Malaysia, while others are still opting for proven business schools in countries like New Zealand and Australia. Whatever the final decision, a university with excellent student services that can streamline an international application process is a must. The university should provide advice and service from first contact to well after graduation. Crucially, it should assist students in understanding the entry standards and what documentation is required to support their application. Many universities, such as the University of Auckland, also offer bridging programs so students can fulfil any prerequisites for their chosen postgraduate study.

2. Excellent English-language support

Widely recognized as the ‘global language of business’, English is also the official ‘working language’ of the ASEAN community. In this regard, New Zealand and Australia are the regional study locations of choice for Southeast Asian business students, who can immerse themselves in a native English-speaking environment. For those who feel English proficiency might be a barrier to acceptance to a program, many universities offer excellent pathway programs to assist in achieving the minimum IELTS or TOEFL requirements.  Business schools based in non-English speaking countries should have excellent English-language support.

3. Close to home

While the business schools of the U.S. and U.K. are an attractive option, budding ASEAN entrepreneurs will likely benefit most from studying in the Asia-Pacific region, where the forthcoming regional economic integration will be most keenly felt. The standard of higher education in Southeast Asia is improving quickly, with genuinely viable options emerging in Singapore and Malaysia. For those looking further afield, New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan and Korea offer some of the best business schools in the region. Staying close to home will give graduates a firm grounding in regional business and economics, access to regional business contacts and networks, and a head start on graduates returning from the U.S. and U.K.

4. Money matters

The rising prosperity of ASEAN nations and favourable trends in global currency have opened up exciting new options for Southeast Asian students in terms of affordability. Living and studying in countries like New Zealand or Australia has become a viable reality for tens of thousands more Southeast Asian students in recent years. China, Malaysia and Singapore are also competitive options in terms of overall costs, while still offering highly regarded business degrees. When weighing up money matters a holistic approach is recommended, taking into account student goals, preferred location, tuition fees, return on investment and living costs.

5. An excellent reputation for study and lifestyle

A postgraduate masters degree in a good business school is a significant investment, and a study experience that should deliver excellent returns in quality of education and personal development. Potential universities on any prospective student’s list should be thoroughly investigated in terms of reputation, rankings, quality of faculty, flexibility of programs, and student support. Further, quality of life is key. Look for study destinations where academic rigour can be complemented with outdoor pursuits, sightseeing and social activities. The number and proportion of international students at a given university can also be a good indicator on quality of life for those moving from abroad to study.

For young Southeast Asian professionals looking to succeed in the forthcoming economic integration, these business schools in the Asia Pacific are definitely worth a look:


The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s leading and highest-ranked university. It was recently ranked 82nd in the world in the 2015/2016 QS World University Rankings. For students looking to gain a top-notch qualification, the Business School is an extremely attractive option as it is one of Asia-Pacific’s foremost research-led business schools and is in the 1% of Business Schools worldwide to hold Triple Crown accreditation. The school’s Graduate School of Management offers a portfolio of excellent Business Masters degrees. These coursework programmes are designed to give students an applied learning experience in a diverse, international cohort. Classes focus on professional development and real-life case studies help to provide students with relevant insights into business. Students can benefit from the services of career counsellors, one-on-one coaching sessions, job fairs and networking events to help kick-start their business careers.


#Repost @universityofauckland Busy Business School stands #coursesandcareersday #CaCDay #universityofauckland

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When Monash University Malaysia opened its doors in 1998 it was the first foreign university to open in the Southeast Asian nation. Today, it remains one of the most highly respected higher education institutes in the Malaysia. The School of Business at Monash Malaysia is the largest school on campus, with enrolment numbers exceeding 2,000 students. At postgraduate level, Monash’s Master of International Business offers students the opportunity to undertake an academically rigorous and professionally relevant program of study in contemporary international business issues. Monash also offers an MBA; Master of Philosophy; and Doctor of Philosophy at postgraduate level.


The University of Sydney’s highly regarded Business School has been educating Southeast Asian students for decades at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The School offers a choice of Specialised Business Masters and Management Education programs, as well as a highly regarded MBA program.  For young professionals looking to succeed on the international stage, the Global EMBA – ranked Number 1 by the Financial Review BOSS biennial MBA Ranking in 2013 and 2015 – offers an executive MBA with an international perspective. Outside of study, University of Sydney students can enjoy excellent campus facilities and one of the most liveable cities in the world.


Located in Ningbo, one of China’s most entrepreneurial and business-orientated cities, Nottingham University Business School China (NUBS China) delivers first-class business programs at undergraduate, postgraduate and executive levels. It is an ideal choice for ASEAN students looking to gain insights and contacts within the world’s second largest economy and Southeast Asia’s most important trading partner.  Nottingham offers a choice of tailored masters programs designed to be stepping stones to senior positions in China and the region. The school also offers options at PhD level, as well as a range of Executive study options. 


Another member of Australia’s prestigious ‘Group of 8’, the University of Western Australia’s Business School offers a range of postgraduate programs including accounting, business administration, business information management, commerce, economics, employment relations, finance, human resources, management and marketing.  Particularly popular is UWA’s 12-month ‘MBA Full Time’, an intensive program involving a rigorous academic schedule, with direct industry-project involvement, that prepares graduates for success in the global marketplace. With great facilities and an enviable location, this is another university that comes up trumps in terms of student experience.

Meet Joel, a 26 year old subsea engineer who takes part in amateur football, plays guitar and sings! Joel is also an MBA…

Posted by University of Western Australia Business School on Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Images via The University of Auckland Business School