Why the Manchester MBA attracts the best talent from Thailand

The Manchester MBA (and Manchester and the UK at large) continues to attract top talent from Thailand. We spoke to three Thai students and alumni from the Manchester MBA - Thanyathon (Joy) Panyasathikanonth, Varaporn (Vara) Osatanon, and Papada (Ning) Sirisukhodom - to learn more about why they chose the Manchester MBA, what they learned, and tips for budgeting and financing an MBA.

In short

Top rankings & football: The reputation of the Manchester MBA in Thailand

Since the early 2000s, Manchester (and the UK more broadly) has been a popular study destination for Thai students. There are currently around 100 students from Thailand studying at the University of Manchester.

The Manchester MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School is an attractive choice for Thai students. Its graduates go on to have successful careers in leading companies. In the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2021, the Manchester MBA ranked #4 in the UK, #10 in Europe, and #30 in the world, as well as #11 worldwide for career progress of alumni. Furthermore, the program ranked #1 in the UK and #5 in the world for Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s no wonder Thai students are drawn to the leading program. Ning confirms, “Manchester is right [up] there in the rankings, so people know about it.” (08:57

Ning also shares a rather funny reason why Thai people are fond of Manchester. “Everyone knows about Manchester because [of] Manchester United,” she says. “Manchester United is the most favored English Premier League football team among Thai football fans. So, if you talk about Manchester aside from the MBA, I think [Thai people] know where it is because of the football team.” (09:06)

900 hours of practical learning experience: Key learnings from the Manchester MBA

For Vara, Ning, and Joy, the learning-by-doing approach and real-world application of the Manchester MBA were incredibly appealing.

“There are like 900 hours of consultancy projects with clients from various industries, including nonprofit and international corporations,” Ning says. “[This] got me very excited about being in an environment where I could be challenged by real-life problems and also get to solve real-life issues with diverse team members.” (01:15)

Joy adds, “The live consultancy projects [are] really really useful because…I think it changes you as a person in a way. It changes the total mindset of how you tackle a problem, whether it’s professionally or personally.” (09:30) These consultancy projects also give students access to managers and leaders in their client organizations. This provides them with valuable insights into how leaders work and think. Recent client organizations include Audi, Cisco, Royal Commonwealth Society, and the Foundation for Peace.

For Vara, who works in corporate sustainability, the MBA program played a crucial role in her personal and professional growth. “The MBA has transformed me and my career by improving my confidence, professional credibility, and helping me discover my interest in sustainability,” she shares. “There are multiple skills that I gained through my MBA studies – for example, the ability to see the big picture, problem-solving, [and] strategic thinking. In my current role to achieve sustainable growth, [these skills are] necessary for me to help the company…balance people, planet, and profit, so we can minimize risks and capture opportunities.” (11:13)

Utilizing the Thai network in the Manchester MBA

“We have a lot of Thais in our class,” Joy tells us. (05:06) For Joy, the Thai network in the Manchester MBA has proved to be valuable across her entire MBA journey. Before joining the program, she reached out to Manchester MBA alumni from Thailand to explore the program experience and curriculum. Ultimately, the hands-on experience and international exposure in the program convinced Joy to accept her offer. 

Manchester MBA graduates from Thailand continued to support Joy and help her navigate the program and her post-graduation career. Today, Joy works at leading e-commerce platform Shopee. “I think it’s really beneficial that we have alumni all over,” Joy says. “We have quite a lot of alumni at Shopee as well so I reached out to them to understand the culture before doing the interview, and then I got the offer from Shopee.” (06:56)

Budgeting: How Thai students can finance an MBA in Manchester

The cost of living in Thailand is significantly cheaper than in the UK, especially when it comes to an MBA. However, Ning adds, “It really depends on your lifestyle.” (13:33)

In total, Ning recommends Thai students set aside THB฿3-4 million (around GBP£68,500). This covers all living and study costs, including accommodation which can range from THB฿20,000-60,000 per month.

Fortunately, Alliance Manchester Business School offers a wide range of merit-based scholarships. Both Ning and Joy secured Forté Foundation Fellows Program Scholarships. These are awarded to female candidates with outstanding academic and professional achievements, covering up to 50% of the tuition fee.

After receiving a scholarship covering 30-35% of the tuition fee, Joy says, “I remember I paid around 1 million baht (around GBP£23,000) for the tuition fee and another 1 million baht for living [expenses] in the UK. So, the scholarship really helped a lot.” (14:11)

For Thai working professionals, employer sponsorship is also an option. For Vara, gaining sponsorship was not easy as her company only awards one sponsorship per year. In the end, it was the Manchester MBA’s top ranking combined with Vara’s hard work that won her the sponsorship. “Eventually I got the sponsorship by proposing the MBA program to them and [explaining] the benefits of the program,” she recalls. “[I] committed to come back and improve the company performance.” (14:54)

One thing is certain: the Manchester MBA is worth it. With a strong track record in alumni career progress, practical learning that provides real-world impact, and a valuable alumni network, the Manchester MBA can propel ambitious (Thai) students to new heights both personally and professionally (and they can always unwind at a Manchester United game in their free time).

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