Hong Kong is increasingly becoming part of the global marketplace, including its educational opportunities. Many universities around the world are now offering their programmes in the region. MBA programmes, in particular, are targeting local executives wanting to upgrade their qualifications in the quest for career advancement.
One such institution is the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte). Its Belk College of Business is running an MBA programme in Hong Kong, in partnership with education service provider China Education Group. Tony Hui, China Education Group's programme director remarks, "MBA programmes today are as diverse as the stars in the sky. Our MBA programme, endorsed by Kenneth Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, is one of the few in this market that is offered by a US university. Our partner, UNC Charlotte, is a reputable institution with a strong connection to the finance community."
The University of North Carolina's history dates back more than 200 years and the university has produced 10 Nobel Prize winners. It was among the first public universities established in the US and now boasts 16 campuses, including UNC Charlotte. The city of Charlotte hosts the US headquarters of more than 650 global corporations and nine Fortune 500 companies. The university's Belk College is accredited by AACSB International, a premier accreditation agency for bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programmes in business administration and accounting. Only 15 per cent of business schools in the US currently have this accreditation.
Mr Hui adds that UNC is ranked as a top business education provider in the Princeton Review 2007. Business Week, US News and World Report have also ranked UNC Charlotte's MBA programme as one of the best part-time MBA programmes in the US. In addition, the latter publication selected it as the leading MBA programme in the southern region.
MBA programmes originated in the US and they are built on more than 100 years of experience and knowledge. Moreover, Mr Hui says, the city of Charlotte has a tradition rooted in entrepreneurial spirit and Fortune magazine has credited it with having "the nation's best pro-business attitude". The city's business-oriented environment is a boost for business-education provision.
The programme has solid credentials and a pragmatic approach when it comes to study mode. It is a part-time programme, tailored for busy executives, and all classes are held on weekends at facilities in Central. A fast track allowing participants to complete the programme in a year is available. "We chose these world-class office complexes as our teaching venues because they can provide a comfortable learning environment for our students," Mr Hui explains.
The curriculum, covering high-level business essentials such as financial management, marketing management, international business concepts and organisational leadership, comprises 11 modules, but participants are only required to study one at a time.
What makes the programme even more flexible is that students can take the courses in a variety of locations, including the mainland, Taiwan, the US and Mexico. This means that students can continue their studies if they end up working overseas.
Mr Hui adds, "The programme curriculum is constantly being updated and refined. UNC Charlotte invites prominent business leaders from a wide spectrum of industries to serve on its Business Advisory Council, a body working closely with the university to ensure that the curriculum is relevant to the business community. Also, it is endorsed by leading US banks and financial institutions."
Participants essentially receive a US education in Hong Kong. The lecturers are UNC faculty members with global teaching experience and they bring an international perspective accumulated through strong ties with the business community.
With the first intake completed, the programme has just commenced and, according to Mr Hui, is running smoothly. "Our students are mostly business executives from a variety of industries, for example, investment banking and retailing. We welcome this diversity as it enhances the learning environment."
The programme includes case studies, guest lectures, seminars and team projects and is acclaimed for connecting teachers and students through group discussions, during which business experience and knowledge are exchanged.
In order to be accepted for the programme, students should have at least a bachelor's degree, and preferably a minimum of three years' work experience.