Higher education key to luring Asian business leaders
Focus on higher education is the key to attracting and retaining future Asian business leaders, panelists at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s International Business Leadership Summit said last week.
Americans should do more to attract the best and brightest students from Asia, panelists agreed, and the focus should be on offering Asian students opportunities to pursue higher education in America, a brand that America is known for.
“The American success story is that of first-generation immigrants who come here with little and succeed and give back,” said Somnath Bhattacharya, dean of the School of Business at St. Thomas University.
Most engineering and business programs in American universities were created because there were Asian students who were interested in coming to this country and receiving their higher education here, he said.
One of the worst examples of why these programs are beginning to shrink, he said, is because once the students receive their degrees, they are allowed 18 to 24 months of temporary work permits, after which they are no longer welcome in this country.
“Guess what these entrepreneurial and highly-skilled people do? They go home… and they set up entrepreneurial ventures there that compete directly with our enterprise here,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.
One way to attract students is to appeal to Asian parents’ number-one priority, which is the desire for their children to have the best education possible, said Erik Bethel, managing director of Interval Ventures. In order to have them stay in Miami after completing their education, he said, there needs to be a foundation built that can make them feel comfortable enough to stay.
American universities need to partner with Asian universities and create study abroad programs, said Angie Ki, ND, chief business development officer of American Da Tang Group. She said the focus should be on enlightenment, not profit.
“Students love them [but we need] to make them affordable,” Dr. Ki said.
If students have no opportunity to stay, said Philip J. Spiegelman, principal of realty brokerage International Sales Group, they will naturally be attracted to go back home. He proposed reaching out to students as they’re graduating and offering them the opportunity to work and giving them a chance at a career that will let them create a life here.
“Providing them a future to stay is part of the commitment we have to have in order to grow our communication as a bridge between two cultures,” Mr. Spiegelman said.
“At St. Thomas right now we have 72 students from China alone, and then there are others from Vietnam and Bangladesh and Saudi,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.
Internship programs are instrumental in teaching students how America and Asia do business said Charles Cheng, vice president of TMCell and founder of Asia Connect Media Corp.
“I think the best way for anybody to learn is to actually do it… Going on internships and actually working in doing business in a field that interests them” is vital, Mr. Cheng said.
“We have trade missions that go to Asia [and] we need to emphasize the education component of it… I’m happy to see these missions, but I very rarely see missions have even a tertiary focus on education, and that needs to change,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.
This year at St. Thomas, Dr. Bhattacharya said, the School of Science is starting a program in big data analytics, with eight to ten students who will be moving to Miami from India or China to enroll.
“What we’re trying to do is look at international business as a conduit to attract new… students. We are trying to create majors and disciplines that actually have some relevance to Asian studies,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.
“If you ask [the] Chinese… what is the most important thing for them… [the] number-one [most] important thing is the children’s education,” Dr. Ki said. “The real deal is getting the education system good [here]… Then you got them.”