lab's picture
Rank: Monkey | 58

I know a lot of you are / will be working in Asia, and I wanted to hear your thoughts on CUHK vs NUS. I'm at a non-target university and will be a SA at a BB in the US. Next year, I will be finishing classes a little early and wanted to study abroad in Asia. My first choice was HKU, but the program is impacted so my remaining two choices are either CUHK or NUS. I can also go to Fudan in Shanghai, but I already studied in Beijing two years ago. I've never been to HK or Singapore so I am indifferent location wise. My primary goal is just to have a fun time abroad, but it would also be nice to be able to make some contacts / potentially apply for some banking jobs while there.

From an overall recruiting / prestige standpoint, which is better? I know HKU, CUHK, and HKUST are all top schools in the HK and get recruited at some level, but is it all the same level or is there a definitive and material difference?


Other APAC
All Asia Pacific

Comments (20)

Dec 30, 2009

HKU, HKUST Most Definitely.
They are the "TARGETS" in HK.
JPM, MS, CS, Lazard recruits at those schools. not in others.
CUHK is like a non-target Top 500 state school.

    • 2
Dec 30, 2009

Coreduo has it right my man!




The time is now, seize the day ...

Dec 30, 2009

Are HKU and HK polytechnic the same school ? I'm also in the middle of choosing my academic exchange. I can choose HKUST, HK polytechnic, Singapore management school, Seoul National University, two schools in Japan (Sophia U, Rikkyo U)

Since I've been learning Japanese for years now, I want to go to Sophia U in Tokyo to have an intensive training. However, there, I won't have anything else beside Japanese lessons. In HKUST, I don't know if I will be with postgraduate students (where the good courses are ...) or with undergraduate.

What's the best thing to do ? Is it better to go to a target school when yours is not or go to an unknown school outside Japan to only study the language ?

Dec 30, 2009

HKU is not HK polytechnic, the latter is much worse. Go HKUST if you are non-biz major (since much easier to map those engineering, science courses) it is a target for most of the banks (not so sure how many are front office roles though...)

Also take not it is much cheaper to travel around Asia if you stay in Singapore than HK.

So if you want pure traveling then I would suggest you take Singapore Management University (Local targets, heavily recruited for IBD, I went to MS 1st round, out of 5, 4 are from SMU......)

Personally I don't think the university brand is that important, exchange is all about FUN and getting to know the culture. Just go with your heart. You can always apply for jobs when you go back France ~~~~

Dec 30, 2009

Thx longwaytogo. I'm a business major. I think I'm going to choose Sophia University located in the heart of Tokyo to improve my skils in Japanese. As you said, it's about fun and culture, so going to Japan probably is a better choice since I'll be doing the same courses at HKUST the following semester in France.

Btw, I also have the opportunity to join double degree programs in the US, Canada or Japan instead of doing my last year in France
- Graziadio Pepperdine University MBA
- Ottawa University MBA
- Nagoya University of Commerce and Business MBA
(other choices are available but I don't consider them)
Any comments about these schools (espcially the North American ones)

@ lab, sorry for have changed the topic

Dec 30, 2009

@ lab, CUHK is by no means a top school in HK as the above had said, but I believe NUS in Singapore is decent. That said, since you've already got the SA at a BB, and they primarily look at your core school in the US anyway, why not pick based on interest in course or interest in region instead? My vote's for HK - amazing place, great nightlife, a lot more fun than Singapore. May even be a good place to network with bankers, if you're so inclined

@ Scratchy - I'm Canadian... I've never met anyone with a MBA from Ottawa on Bay St, let alone Wall St.

Dec 31, 2009

HK if you wanna get more exposures under Chinese culture. I guess it helps if you are interested in applying BB in HK. HKU/UST/CUHK are all good schools. I do not think the banks will care that much about which school you exchanged to when looking at your resume compared with the one you are graduating from.

Dec 31, 2009

Location is important when choosing these schools.

HKU is in Central or in the mountains above central which is away from Central MTR station by about a 20 minute bus ride.

CUHK and HKUST is in new territories, so it is much further from all the fun on Hong Kong Island and some stuff on Kowloon side. Both CUHK and HKUST is about an hour away from Hong Kong Island. If you plan on hitting up any nightlife, it will e a huge pain since the trains close at around 1 a.m. Remember to get a China Visa stateside if you go if you plan to go to China, since you can get n multi entry visas in the U.S. but only double entry if you apply for it in Hong Kong.

From what I have heard, people at CUHK and HKUST go to Shenzhen since it is much closer and the nightlife there is better, plus everything is MUCH cheaper across the border, whether you want to eat or shop but definitely watch out it is one of the most crime ridden cities in China.

Academic-wise, HKU is quite difficult, but I have heard that the students from CUHK and HKUST are just as studious and competitive because they are also less distracted since they live so far away from any fun. If you do any research on the hong Kong educational system you will find out that tons of qualified students also go to CUHK and HKUST because (e.g. 800 open spots for HKU 1200 qualified students so they have a lottery= 400 students just as qualified or more qualified than the next are sent to CUHK or HKUST) so don't take those schools lightly either.

Most of the recruiting will be for local students and specifically say so from their job opportunity websites. After all you are graduating from your school and not HKU, CUHK, HKUST. Also, when those banks recruit from schools in HK, GPA is much less of a factor as I have seen locals get SA and FT positions from having 3.0, since the schools are so competitive. According to the locals I have spoken to, you just need a mediocre GPA and you will get recruited, but like I said earlier, the recruiting positions are exclusive for full time HKU students and not for those studying abroad.

If you have anymore questions specific to HKU, you can PM me or ask them on this thread, since I just recently got back from studying abroad there.

Jan 1, 2010

HKU is the #1 university in Asia by rank. CUHK and HKUST come nowhere close, but HKUST does have a renowned business school whose MBA program is jointly conducted with Kellogg in the US. NUS is an awesome school in terms of quality of education, campus and reputation. If I had to pick between CUHK and NUS, it would definitely be NUS for me.

Jan 1, 2010

Opinion from an insider

Hi i am currently a final year student in HKUST, so guess i can help you out a little bit

Both CUHK and NUS are not bad...

For undergrad: CUHK and UST are better than HKU, most of the banks recruit from these 2
For MBA: HKUST does have a better EMBA/MBA than the others in HK, its EMBA is #1 in the world

i guess u also need to consider the culture when deciding where to go. in hk we practise standard UK english, while in singapore their accent is quite weird (no offense here)

Jan 4, 2010

Opinion from an insider

Hi i am currently a final year student in HKUST, so guess i can help you out a little bit

Both CUHK and NUS are not bad...

For undergrad: CUHK and UST are better than HKU, most of the banks recruit from these 2
For MBA: HKUST does have a better EMBA/MBA than the others in HK, its EMBA is #1 in the world

i guess u also need to consider the culture when deciding where to go. in hk we practise standard UK english, while in singapore their accent is quite weird (no offense here)

I seriously doubt that you attend HKUST and say that CUHK is better than HKUST.
CUHK is thought as a near-Part-time school. Who are you ppl?
I have seen way too many IB bankers from HKU, HKUST but haven't seen 1 from CUHK.
Commercial banks? Maybe. But not IB. Wake up.

Jan 1, 2010

Jacbo Cheng - for Undergrade CUHK is not better than HKU - sorry to tell you that.

It's more like HKU + UST and then CUHK. The UST kids that apply ar emostly financial engineers whereas the liberal arts kids come from HKU

Then again this is Asia and engineers are bountiful

Jan 2, 2010


It really depends on the field then. If you talk about business/banking for undergrad, CUHK and UST are way better.

These 2 uni are targets and kids often make it into IBD/front office roles (HK Office) of BB while HKU kids rarely do.

    • 1
Jan 2, 2010

From my experience recruiting (from the other side) ... I can tell you that's not true. UST CUK and HKU are all target schools for most and CUHK is not for others

but whtaever - no point in disputing the veracity of this.

Other thing is most of the kids hired out of HK are super quant / engineering / math backgrounds. Most of the liberal arts kids come from abroad so in that sense yes IB's will most likely take a liberal arts kids from cambridge than from HKU

Jan 3, 2010

Generally BB IBD doesn't recruit much from local schools period..a couple a year per BB perhaps..

OP: why are you worried about your HK school? Recruiters will only look at your US school and internship - they'll probably assume you partied your way through your exchange programme regardless of where you did it

Jan 4, 2010

bluespirit - plenty of the HK BB's are bnow recruting at local schools ... the policy changed as of last year

Jul 5, 2010

Reply to comment from jacobchengtk:

I am a full time MBA student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and I have many years experience in investment banking, having worked for both Credit Suisse and ABN in equity research at their office in London, UK. I came to Hong Kong to study an MBA because I want to get formal training in Chinese business, not just general MBA teaching (although that is important too) which is much needed if the intention is to work in the Asia-Pacific region, since the style of business there is different in many ways from Western practices. I have not completed my degree yet but already had considerable interest from investment banks. So you need to be careful about your "wake up" comment.

Here are some futher comments:

1) HKUST, CUHK and HKU are all good business schools. The CUHK ranking is gradually catching up with HKUST-and is already very good anyway on a global basis according to the Financial Times 2010 MBA rankings (28th). The CUHK ranking is likely to increase substantially again because it is rapidly expanding the number of places it has for its MBA course (it has recently opened a new, larger building), which means more students, hence more fees to improve the course, plus more students to vote in various surveys (if you know anything about how the surveys are conducted, then part of the ranking is based on the number of students who give their positive opinion). It is better to wait for the next set of FT rankings (2011) to see if this becomes true, rather than specualtively contest this point. HKU seems to be standing still, probably because it is very hard for it to expand numbers due to space restrictions (due to it being located in the more expensive town centre, although they will probably tell you it is to keep up the quality of admissions). As a general university, HKU used to be top in Hong Kong twenty or thirty years ago but this has undoubtaly slipped in the last decade, although there are still some centres of of excellence, such as medicine.

2) HKUST is a more technical, theoretical (but with some practical content) course. Similarly with HKU. However CUHK tries to add more practical orientated to the theory (This is an MBA so you want the "real" business world, not just loads of textbooks, right?), hence it also places a lot of emphasis on Asian business culture issues-many Western companies have not done so well in China precisely because of this lack of knowledge. CUHK often refers to itself as the cultural university, because of its very strong links to China. As is the case with HKUST and HKU, the CUHK also gives various options to concentrate further on areas of interest ( ie China business, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, General, etc etc).

3) CUHK course fees (although still high because demand to get in is high) are slightly lower and there are a lot of scholarship options that are helpful. I also personally found the admissions staff at CUHK much more informative and responsive compared to HKUST (very mechanical selection procedure and totally non-responsive to enquiries) and HKU (not good at follow up enquiries and do not seem to value previous work experience as highly although they do take it into account). At all three places, the course tuition language is English. The nationality mix of students is good, with people from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan Singapore, Korea, Japan, India, Europe (even Russia!), USA, Canada and South America, for example.

4) If you look at the average GMAT scores for all three schools, then you will see that they are all in fact within a similar range, more so if you do a like for like adjustment for the number of students accepted, so the quality of students admitted are similar. Of course there are many other factors to consider for quality apart from the admission GMAT. We get a lot of exchange students from overseas universities such as the Chicago Business School, etc, and they are all good people, however there seems to be no noticeable difference between them and CUHK MBA students in assignment grades or class room discussions (maybe they party too much whilst in Hong Kong and I do not blame them!). If you want to go on exchanges then the CUHK MBA has a huge list of universities from all around the world, including London Business School, Yale, Chicago, Fudan, Peking, NUS, Tokyo, etc etc.

5) The CUHK and HKUST campus are located further away from the city centre, but the quality of accomodation is probably better (but not brilliant, however it is cheap). Also, the mtr (metro rail) stops directly at the CUHK campus if you want to travel into the city. The CUHK campus is also a very lovely, scenic campus, and quite hilly!

6) I actually visited the NUS campus and met some NUS MBA students when I did the Asian Stock Pitch competition last March 2010. It is also a great campus with great students, and the MBA course is also good. The night life in Singapore is vibrant although it seems to be more expensive than Hong Kong and some people wish that Singapore could be a bit bigger with more variety. The issue is how close you wish to get to China. Most of the big mainland China companies list on the Hong Kong Stock exchange (not Singapore), and Hong Kong has one of the largest, if not the largest, IPO markets in the world, so thats where a lot of IB business is done. Singapore does a lot in Asia outside China.

So in summary, wherever you go you will have a good experience, and the quality of both the students and tuition is relatively high. Of course if you want a more general MBA, then you still have places like Harvard or Stanford etc to to go (if you get in), but these are very expensive two year (instead of one year) courses, and even with the outstanding quality of their courses, you will learn much more about Asian business by actually studying in Asia instead (and more likely to get in on local recruitment), albeit a Harvard etc MBA will obviously get you a job almost anywhere in the world. For recruitment with investment banks, it does not make much difference which place you did your MBA amongst CUHK, HKUST and HKU. Instead it depends more on your previous work experience, what you learned on the MBA, and how you sell yourself. My selling point is the emphasis on formal training in Chinese business practice combined with my previous Western ibanking experience.

Oct 5, 2010

Hmm.. I graduated from CUHK and I've worked in MS HK IBD as SA 2 years ago.
Most entry level analysts back then, were recruited from local universities mostly HKUST and CUHK.
I don't remember anyone from HKU whom I had a chance to work with at that point. (But of course I'm not saying that there isn't any.)

Lunch is for wimps.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Mar 10, 2016

This discussion is an old one but I'm adding to it to clarify some ridiculous comments on CUHK.

TheBuySideGirl is obviously extremely biased. I wonder why she has such a hatred towards CUHK, or did HKUST actually pay her to tarnish the name of CU.

In Hong Kong, the Big 3 refers to CUHK, HKU and HKUST. In general, the ranking are HKU>CUHK>HKUST, in which HKUST has been aggressively trying to climb up the ladder. It turns out the global ranking for HKUST has even exceeded HKU, but in the eyes of the employers in Hong Kong, HKU and CUHK are still on the upper hand with a narrowing margin.

Look into ranking, CUHK ranges from 39 to 51 globally in QS from 2011 to 2015. It is definitely NOT what the above comments have described. It is for sure a prestigious school in Asia.

In terms of Business School, CUHK had been the best as it is the first ever Business School in Hong Kong. In recent years, thanks to the efforts in research and marketing of HKUST, many people regard HKUST as a better biz school. For teaching quality, HKUST and CUHK trump HKU by a great margin.

In terms of the employability, CUHK continuously do well in surveys regarding reputation among employers, though the margin isn't very significant.

All in all, the Big 3 are all target local schools in HK. Recruitment talks are carried out in all these 3 schools, and an exciting career is definitely possible.

Mar 10, 2016