International opportunities

February 12, 2013

The MBA program at Sasin seems to be an international MBA program, but in reality it is not that international at all: most students are Thai and as a result most out-of-class things will also be completely Thai. In total there are only 5 foreign students (not including the people who are counted as foreigners by Sasin because they hold two passports) plus a very limited number of exchange students every now and then who join for a few weeks. The classes are conducted in English though and most professors teaching here are visiting professors, but that still does not make it a truly international program; especially not when compared to other international MBA programs offered around the world.

International in Thailand

International in Thailand

Sasin does offer some international opportunities for its students, to get a taste of what happens outside of Thailand. At first there is the exchange program offering students the chance to follow a quarter abroad, and secondly students can choose the optional GIM course at the end of the first year where some research has to be conducted in a country of your own choice as long as it is not Thailand.

The exchange program is very popular with students since it offers the opportunity to spend a quarter outside of Thailand at the best places the world has to offer like Kellogg and Wharton in the USA, some universities in Japan and China, etc. The Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the place where I studied before, seems a lot less attractive to the average Thai as nobody applied to spend a quarter there: maybe Holland is too cold or maybe I am not such a good ambassador for my country. Many students apply for the limited number of spots available at the most attractive universities and through some questionable ways Sasin picks the “best” students for the spots they applied for.

The complete list with universities participating in the exchange program (list stolen from the Sasin MBA brochure)

The complete list with universities participating in the exchange program (list stolen from the Sasin MBA brochure)

For picking the best students for the available spots I would have expected a focus on what the student wants to gain from this international experience, and what they have to offer their potential temporary classmates during their exchange to be the most important criteria for making a selection, but Sasin sees this differently and went for the quality of an essay on the future of Thailand within ASEAN and how you were able to answer ambiguous questions, like if the internet is something good or bad, during an interview that neither tested your knowledge, motivation, nor reasoning skills very well. Apparently this method is used for some time already and I can only imagine the impressions the Sasin ambassadors left after visiting a foreign university for some months keeping in mind the strong arguing skills and highly developed urge to ask questions to get to the bottom of things often displayed during class when being within their comfort zone.

The first information session about the exchange program (Aug 2012)

The first information session about the exchange program (Aug 2012)

The GIM, Global Initiatives in Management, trip is completely different from the exchange as this one leaves everything open for students to decide. The idea behind the trip is to do some research about a subject you deem interesting, in a country you deem interesting, with people you deem interesting. In other words: you just find some friends who want to join you doing the research, pick a country with many other students, and all go there to do some questionable research while having lots of fun. At first I enrolled for this course as I always wanted to visit Japan and it would be fun to be there for 2 weeks to visit some companies and do some research. But it soon became clear that the costs of a short trip like this would be steep: 60,000 baht for the credits and another 55,000 baht for the direct costs involved in the trip like hotel, travel, and food. Sasin normally pays about 25,000 baht of this trip, probably because they cash 60,000 baht for the credits without offering much in return, but it would still leave me with a 1-2 weeks trip to Japan for 90,000 baht. I guess I can do it cheaper alone.

It sounds so good, until you hear about the costs ;)

It sounds so good, until you hear about the costs ;)

And more importantly: we also got a chance to see the research results previous groups produced based on their GIM trips and most conclusions had the seal of approval from Captain Obvious. The main reason why people still pick this course is to be able to go on a holiday with friends paid by their parents as it would be harder to request funding from Khun mom and dad if you admit your whole holiday plan is based on drinking and partying.

GIM program draft presentation to convert companies to cooperate

GIM program draft presentation to convert companies to cooperate

For me the choice to skip both opportunities for some more international exposure was therefore quite a simple one; I view my whole studying at Sasin already as sort of an exchange. Besides, this leaves me a couple of months during the break where I can travel to wherever I want and do whatever I want. 

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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