SAIF: Re­shap­ing fi­nance ed­u­ca­tion and re­search

The Shang­hai Ad­vanced In­sti­tute of Fi­nance aims to de­velop tal­ent and pro­vide so­lu­tions to China’s eco­nomic is­sues

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WANG HONGYI in Shang­hai

wanghongyi@chi­nadaily. com.cn

The Shang­hai Ad­vanced In­sti­tute of Fi­nance has vowed to strengthen its ef­forts in pro­vid­ing ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions to China’s eco­nomic is­sues by con­tin­u­ing to de­velop top tal­ent for the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try and gen­er­at­ing cut­ting-edge knowl­edge in fi­nan­cial the­ory and ap­pli­ca­tions, said Chun Chang, ex­ec­u­tive dean and pro­fes­sor of fi­nance at SAIF.

“As SAIF is based in China, we nat­u­rally have a deep un­der­stand­ing of the do­mes­tic mar­ket and China’s fi­nan­cial sys­tem, which al­lows us to bet­ter de­velop so­lu­tions and a the­ory sys­tem with a global per­spec­tive,” Chang said.

Es­tab­lished in 2009, SAIF be­came one of the youngest busi­ness schools in the world to re­ceive the in­ter­na­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion from the As­so­ci­a­tion to Ad­vance Col­le­giate Schools of Busi­ness In­ter­na­tional, a global ed­u­ca­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion net­work, ear­lier this year.

In this year’s Fi­nan­cial Times’ an­nual rank­ing of the best Master in Fi­nance pro­grams in the world, SAIF made a strong de­but when it was ranked 2nd in Asia and 28th in the world.

“China’s fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic is­sues are unique. It takes both lo­cal in­sights and in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive to tackle them. That's what SAIF tries to do — we study Chi­nese is­sues us­ing an in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive and this al­lows us to be in a lead­ing po­si­tion with well-rounded strengths in the fi­nance com­mu­nity,” Chang said.

Re­search into China’s econ­omy, the se­cond largest in the world, has been a hot topic in the aca­demic world. Ac­cord­ing to Chang, de­spite China's ris­ing sta­tus in­ter­na­tion­ally, the do­mes­tic fi­nan­cial in­dus­try is still closed and lag­ging be­hind its in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts. How­ever, the lo­cal fi­nan­cial in­dus­try nev­er­the­less holds great po­ten­tial in the long-term de­vel­op­ment of China’s econ­omy.

Ac­cord­ing to the dean, there is also a short­age of the­o­ries and stud­ies to sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion-mak­ers.

In re­sponse to this is­sue, Chang said: “At SAIF, we are com­mit­ted to train­ing top tal­ent, build­ing an open plat­form for re­search and be­com­ing a lead­ing think tank, es­pe­cially on is­sues re­lated to China’s fi­nan­cial sys­tem.”

The idea to form the SAIF was born when lead­ing city of­fi­cials vis­ited Shang­hai Jiao Tong Univer­sity in 2008 and were given a chance to com­pare the fi­nance ma­jor cur­ricu­lums of lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties and over­seas schools.

“Peo­ple were shocked to find huge dif­fer­ences be­tween the cur­ricu­lums and this was when we re­al­ized that it was nec­es­sary to carry out ed­u­ca­tion re­forms,” Chang said.

“The au­thor­i­ties knew that Shang­hai needed to have a high-end fi­nan­cial in­sti­tute to help the city progress and catch up with its in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts. This marked the birth of SAIF.”

The in­sti­tute now boasts an in­ter­na­tion­ally-minded fac­ulty team, com­posed mostly of over­seas re­turnees who not only have rich over­seas back­ground and ex­pe­ri­ence, but also pos­sess deep in­sights into the do­mes­tic mar­ket.

Chang was the first Chi­nese to be­come a fi­nance pro­fes­sor in an Amer­i­can univer­sity, hav­ing taught at Carl­son School of Man­age­ment, Univer­sity of Min­nesota, for 17 years.

He is also the first scholar to re­turn to work in China on a full-time ba­sis after be­com­ing a tenured fi­nance pro­fes­sor in a lead­ing Amer­i­can univer­sity.

SAIF cur­rently has a fac­ulty of 27 full-time pro­fes­sors and 35 spe­cial-term pro­fes­sors. Forty-six of them ob­tained tenured po­si­tions from top busi­ness schools in North Amer­ica and Europe.

In a bid to cre­ate a dy­namic en­vi­ron­ment for ed­u­ca­tion and re­search, SAIF has also been peg­ging its stan­dards to those of the world’s top-tier busi­ness schools, and is look­ing to ex­pand its of­fer­ings. In ad­di­tion, the cur­ricu­lum and man­age­ment of the fac­ulty are also mod­eled after the best busi­ness schools in North Amer­ica.

“Our full-time fac­ulty mem­bers are re­cruited from the finest in­sti­tu­tions in the world, in­clud­ing Stan­ford, Whar­ton, Columbia, Chicago, MIT and UBC. They are re­viewed and pro­moted in a man­ner con­sis­tent with lead­ing re­search in­sti­tu­tions in North Amer­ica and Europe,” Chang said.

“SAIF is also a plat­form for ex­plor­ing the re­form of the in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion of higher Chi­nese ed­u­ca­tion, some­thing that has not been truly achieved yet,” he added.

Over the years, SAIF has widely co­op­er­ated with over­seas busi­ness schools for fac­ulty and stu­dent ex­changes. China Lab, for ex­am­ple, is a three­month in­ter­na­tional course for SAIF's MBA and Master of Fi­nance stu­dents and their coun­ter­parts at MIT’s Sloan School, and it is de­signed to help stu­dents from both coun­tries gain first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Stu­dents of the Shang­hai Ad­vanced In­sti­tute of Fi­nance have a group dis­cus­sion at the in­sti­tute.

Chun Chang, ex­ec­u­tive dean and pro­fes­sor of fi­nance at SAIF

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