update: May 24th - I've updated a few unofficial numbers from the 2007 report soon to be published on INSEAD web site. All updated data is in this color and in italics. If the final report on the web is a little different, don't be too surprised, just point it to me!
update: June 11 - the INSEAD official 2007 career report is out, see it here.
This is going to be a one-off unusual post, because I honestly know/knew very little about HKUST MBA - which is the MBA program of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. You might say - what the heck is this post about? Why INSEAD vs. HKUST ?! What happened to INSEAD vs. LBS?
Recently, not once - but several times - I received mails and thread-links from blog readers about comparisons between these schools, especially between INSEAD Singapore and HKUST, and that HKUST is the best in Asia and trumps INSEAD, and repeated posts about how INSEAD sucks apparently compared to HKUST MBA and so on. I was very intrigued and checked a few of these posts. What I found was some assertions about how HKUST is Asia focused, is fantastic and that "INSEAD Singapore" is a lousy place and doesn't compare with "INSEAD France" and similar posts. I can understand the enthusiasm for their school being top notch, but really - I don't get the idea of comparing by needlessly dragging some other school and bashing it. What has INSEAD got to do with "best Asian school comparison"?...hmm..so I figured that I have some free time, so let me get to my favorite method -
Let's look at numbers, people! why speculate endlessly?
But before that - one major clarification. INSEAD is not a "Asian" school. There is no "INSEAD Singapore" as a separate entity. Comparisons that mention "INSEAD Singapore" and anything else is plain stupid. It's just that INSEAD happens to have a campus in Singapore to get better access to Asia. There are many misconceptions about "INSEAD Singapore" vs. "INSEAD France" - so please take a moment to read this INSEAD Singapore FAQ. I've covered quite a bit on this topic. People seem to make statements with no clue as to how INSEAD really works. Now. Here's my methodology which ultimately focuses on career results - as that is what this whole debate seems to be about.
- No upfront bias - I know pretty much nothing about HKUST, so I will neither praise or bash it, it may be a fantastic finance school better than INSEAD and Wharton and everyone else. So I'll rely on some figures straight out of their website.
- No subjective statements - No "he said that, she said this" or "finance there is best in world" or whatever. These are too subjective - the end result of anything world class is resultant world class numbers - i.e. careers, nobels, formal rankings (with the burden of whatever subjectivity they have) etc.
- A simple side-by-side comparison and highlight of what the numbers say. Nothing more, nothing less. No tricky deductions.
- I will focus on the career report as the prime measure - after all, that is what finally sums up comprehensively the value a school provides. The best schools get great people, create a great atmosphere, and then manage to provide their students great opportunities and a strong network. So I'll work with some of the categories HKUST's own career report focuses on.
- I will be using the 2007 Career Report for HKUST and the 2006 Career Report for INSEAD (the 2007 report, while not out officially yet, is better than 2006 in almost all respects, but unfortunately I cannot use it). Once the 2007 report for INSEAD comes out, I will update the relevant figures. I will be using general average salaries wherever possible instead of getting into regional bias. Keep in mind I'm comparing 2 schools that are equivalent (as claimed), so all comparisons must be fair. Update: I have updated the data with 2007 numbers. The official report is not out yet (just printing)
- I will not use any numbers from INSEAD career report that do not have an equivalent figures for HKUST.
- I will use the 2007 HK$ to US$ exchange rate of 7.8 HK$ = 1 US$ (using data from HKUST page). In 2006, the US$ was stronger than it is today, but I will still use the older $ figures reported in the INSEAD 2006 report. In general, I will multiply the INSEAD 2006 $ numbers by 1.03 (3%)to provide a minor adjustment for both overall salary increase and $ depreciation.
|HKUST (2007)||INSEAD (2006/7)||Notes|
|Average Salary||66,800$|| 116,200$|
|Average Salary (outside HK/China)||57,202$||-||no such classification for INSEAD|
|Average Salary within HK/China||59,000$||104,000$|
100,200$ (APAC complete)
|INSEAD APAC includes China, India (accounts for lower wages in average).|
|HKUST (2007)||INSEAD (2007)||Notes|
|Median Salary (outside HK/China)||51,029$||110,004$||no such classification for INSEAD|
|HKUST (2007)||INSEAD (2007)|
|Dominant Geography||78% (HK 68% & China 10%)||no info yet|
|Rest of world||22%||77%|
update:A reader informs that I should mention 17,000 INSEAD MBA and not 32,000 as it includes EMBA. I'm not too sure about that - the HKUST MBA reported number is 3000, but its class size is ~60 (as mentioned here) and the school was established in 1991. That means total MBA number should be ~60*17 = 1020. Then the number 3000 probably includes exchange and exec-MBA, in which case the comparative should be 32,000 for INSEAD. I will keep this unless I have a better access to fact.
|HKUST (2007)||INSEAD (2006/7)|
|Country of Origin||53% (China & HK)||10% (US/India)|
|Nationalities (~) in a class||20||60|
|Network||3000 in 38 countries, majority in HK/China (mentioned on site)||32,000 in 150 countries|
|HKUST (2007)||INSEAD (2006/7)|
- HKUST report does not say who hired how many - so I cannot compare top employers in sectors
- Bain, BCG or McKinsey (apart from BTO) did not hire in HKUST. These big 3 hired 123 (excluding former consultants) from INSEAD.
- For tech enthusiasts - Google recruits globally from INSEAD (7 in 2007), but Google China in HKUST
- Microsoft HK recruited from HKUST, however Microsoft does not recruit on campus from INSEAD. Microsoft, come to INSEAD, you're losing people to Google ;)
- Posters about HKUST mention that it is a fantastic way into iBanks. What I'm curious is that 2006/7 INSEAD Finance average base (~median) was about 113,000$ 119,000$ (not including the bonuses). However, in HKUST 2007, with 43% of class going in finance (and presumably a large number of them into ibanks as claimed), why is the overall average ~60,000 US$ in HK? Shouldn't it be over 100K?
- INSEAD is about 13 times bigger than HKUST, with job spreads across a wide geographic range (people went to 350 companies in 55 countries to work in 2007), and has higher salaries across all sectors. I find that intriguing.. with mostly (presumably) high compensation, I would think the standard deviation should be low for HKUST and the average should be higher.
All I can tell you is we're seeing a healthy interest from top companies that want to hire INSEAD grads into China and HK. APAC average and median in 2007 are comparable to levels in Europe and US - and compares, for e.g. to Stanford. Why anyone would be eager to bring INSEADers into Asia with such salaries especially for a crappy school with no brand beats me ;)
update: If you are curious, here is a detailed side-by-side of INSEAD vs. (alongside) Chicago GSB, Columbia, MIT Sloan, Darden and Ross.
So there. That ends my first-and-last post on this topic. I just couldn't help it. If you are a reader of this blog and read posts in some threads going over the same debate, please feel free to link this there! And for those who love HKUST, it's all good but keep us out of the debate and trashing us. Pick LBS next time, really ;) ;)