Exploring the limits of information technology

by Sophie Leung

James Liu, programme leader, MSc programmes in Computing
associate professor
Department of Computing
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Photo: Nolly Leung

Many global business giants have recognised China's huge potential as an Asian information technology hub and have established their regional offices on the mainland.

Following the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, the IT market has seen a revival, with employment opportunities growing for candidates looking for information-systems and software-engineering positions.

Although there may be an abundance of job opportunities, it is still important for people in the IT world to stay ahead in a market where highly skilled professionals compete for the best positions.

"Technical skills and a first degree alone may not suffice when it comes to managing systems at a higher level of operation, such as drafting specifications or selecting vendors," says James Liu, programme leader of MSc programmes in Computing, and associate professor, Department of Computing, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

For those hoping to pursue a second degree without major sacrifices to work and family, the Master of Science (MSc) programmes offered by Hong Kong CyberU (HKCyberU), PolyU's online arm, could be a pragmatic option.

The programmes offer flexibility by providing a web-based learning platform. Real-time chat rooms and video conferencing allow around-the-clock information exchange and idea sharing. Online tutorials are supplemented by optional classes where students get personal guidance from teaching staff.

HKCyberU programmes offer a less expensive route to earn a master's degree, with 25 per cent off the cost of regular programmes for each credit.

One viable way of entering a career in the mainland China market is by earning a degree through a mainland institution. Students with an MSc in Sofware Technology earn a master's degree from PolyU, and the Master of Software Engineering accreditation from the Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (GUCAS) in Beijing. The programme positions software engineers for career opportunities in both Hong Kong and the mainland, offering Hong Kong students placement opportunities in mainland China.

Graduates are well-positioned for careers as systems designers or systems quality assurance testers, explains Dr Liu, who adds that while the most popular sectors in the industry are data mining and data warehousing, there is no doubt that the demand for software specialists is on the rise.

When it comes to graduates in disciplines other than computing, the master's programme in Information Systems is designed to provide students with skills in the employing and strategic planning of information systems.

Students embarking on the MSc in E-Commerce programme are equipped with a sound knowledge of business models and practical skills through on-campus laboratory workshops, while graduates in Information Systems and E-Commerce are entitled to apply for the professional certificate awarded by the China General Chamber of Commerce, hence getting a valuable edge in the IT world.

Taken from Career Times 30 May 2008, p. A14
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