Business knowledge offers the only way up

by Steven Yau

Daisy Chow, assistant director
College Advancement and Programme Coordination
Lingnan Institute of Further Education
Photo: Courtesy of LIFE
Professionals can improve their career prospects by gaining valuable business qualifications

In a competitive, knowledge-based economy such as Hong Kong, work experience alone is not enough to ensure that an employee makes the grade. With increasing numbers of graduates entering the employment market, mid-career professionals without the right tertiary qualifications may find themselves left behind.

Recognising this, the Lingnan Institute of Further Education (LIFE) collaborates with overseas and mainland renowned institutions to help students—including working professionals—to obtain degrees and qualifications.

"Today's global business sector needs people with an international perspective and skills, and most organisations require their executive staff to have a bachelor's degree at the very least," says Daisy Chow, assistant director, College Advancement and Programme Coordination, LIFE.

A top-up degree can make all the difference to equip someone for a sought-after job or promotion, she adds. The institute offers full- and part-time programmes, allowing students to fit their studies in with their working schedules. "When experience is complemented by a solid academic background, this automatically increases a job candidate's self-confidence," notes Ms Chow.

Widening horizons

LIFE offers two top-up bachelor's business degrees in collaboration with reputable UK universities: a BA (honours) in business administration with Middlesex University, and a BA (honours) in business studies with the University of Wales.

Both institutions are in long-term partnerships with educational bodies across the globe and have a good understanding of overseas students' needs. Curriculums have therefore been adjusted to fit in with their learning schedules and habits.

Ms Chow points out that, while adhering to its own ethos, LIFE works with its partner universities to provide programmes that combine the best of Eastern and Western business knowledge.

The Middlesex business administration programme, offered on a 12-month full-time or 24-month part-time basis, comprises three core modules, including a consultation project that requires students to closely examine the operation and management model of a business organisation and deliver a comprehensive report. This helps students to apply their classroom knowledge in a real-life context.

Other focus areas are "international business strategy" and "business and society", which are designed to hone business, organisational, analytical and decision-making abilities. The latter also touches on issues such as corporate social responsibility and business ethics.

Responding to a growing demand for cross-disciplinary knowledge in the workplace, the University of Wales' two-year, part-time bachelor's programme focuses on building business and theoretical knowledge, targeting people who have the experience but lack the academic qualifications to support them.

Concentrating on management, sales and marketing, logistics, and finance and human resources management, the programme aims to develop students' skills in acquiring, interpreting, analysing and evaluating business principles and practice.

Prospective candidates for both top-up programmes should have relevant diplomas or equivalent qualifications. While full-time students are welcomed, the institute believes modular learning gives candidates the flexibility to manage their time and pace their learning.

"Students that acquire a fundamental knowledge of business concepts and other key skills get to know their own strengths and are in a better position to land a job that suits their particular interests and abilities," says Ms Chow.

LIFE also offers an advancement path for graduates aspiring to a master's qualification, such as the University of Wales' master's degree in business administration. This programme comprises 10 compulsory modules and a choice of two electives courses, with topics ranging from leadership and globalisation to management ethics, e-business and entrepreneurship.

Academic support

Successful learners earn recognised qualifications awarded by LIFE and its partner universities, which closely monitor their programmes' administration and curriculum development.

Students get full access to Lingnan University's support services and facilities, including the library, as well as to LIFE's resources centres in three locations around Hong Kong.

The institute realises that combining full-time work and extramural studies can be challenging. Classes therefore take place on weekday evenings or Saturday afternoons at Lingnan's various learning centres in town.

"A decent qualification is crucial to moving up the corporate ladder. Our bachelor's programmes target people who need the academic knowledge to complement their work experience and advance their careers," Ms Chow concludes.

Adding values

  • Mid-career professionals need the right tertiary qualifications to stay competitive
  • Bachelor's degrees a prerequisite to executive positions
  • Overseas top-up degrees offer flexibility and practical learning experiences

Taken from Career Times 14 May 2010, A11

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