Business School builds Asia bridgehead

29 May 2011

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Recent seed funding toward the establishment of a fully-endowed Singapore alumni-funded PhD scholarship marks a new stage in efforts to put the Business School and the New Zealand Asia Institute on the map.

A $25,000 gift, by Singapore-based University of Auckland alumnus Chuang Seng Lee, along with two $5,000 gifts from Yew Kwong Leung and Raphael Chin respectively, will attract one dollar-for-two dollar matched funding from the Hutton Wilson Trust, providing an additional $17,500 boost to kick-start the endowment.

The donors all hold influential positions in Singapore. Lee is chair of engineering consultancy Beca's Asia hub and an alternate member of the Beca Group Board. He joined Beca in 1989 as Director in Singapore and in 2002 became CEO of Beca Asia. Leung is a Partner in the tax division of the Singapore-based Wong Partnership law firm and Chin is Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Controller for ST Engineering, a global aerospace and electronics firm also based in Singapore.

"This source of funding is significant. We have a large and growing alumni footprint in Asia, but until recently have received little financial support from our graduates there," says the Business School's Development Manager, Brad Weekly.

"Economically, socially and politically, the rise of Asia can't be ignored. New Zealand's proximity to the region and the export-driven nature of our economy means that it will only grow in importance.

"New Zealand signed the world's first Free Trade Agreement with China and both the Business School and the New Zealand Asia Institute are positioned to stay at the forefront of the nation's engagement with Asia."

As at March 2010, the total number of students enrolled across the School's various programmes from this region equalled 1,580 - 37 percent of the total students from Asia enrolled at The University of Auckland. Among them were 389 Chinese students (60 percent of all those studying at the University), 440 Hong Kong students (45 percent), 320 from Malaysia (31 percent) and 140 from Singapore (31 percent).

Weekly says the new scholarship, which the School hopes will be supported by graduates from Singapore, will enable Singapore students - some of whom may already be studying in New Zealand - to undertake postgraduate study at the Business School. Once the fund reaches its total goal of $600,000 it will support one PhD scholarship for three years.

"We are actively pursuing the same model in Malaysia, and looking to establish similar programmes in Hong Kong, China and Vietnam" he says.

"Hopefully, these initiatives will strengthen the Business School's reputation in Asia and further our efforts to attract more international students from the region."