Adult education in Hong Kong is more about enhancing commercial skills and knowledge to stay competitive than just pursuing personal interest. In this context, a business degree is almost a prerequisite for ambitious managers and aspirants alike to climb the career ladder.
In response to the growing need for continuous education, especially in the domain of business administration, Lingnan Institute of Further Education (LIFE) takes the initiative to offer a wide array of business administration programmes ranging from diploma to master's degree level.
"Business programmes are one of our academic strengths. Although the enrolment number is important, we never go for quantity at the expense of quality," says Edward Fung, dean of the Community College and Further Education, LIFE.
For the same reason, LIFE has been scrupulous to collaborate with reputable overseas education institutions that have extensive teaching and programme management experience in meeting the needs of international students.
"In such collaboration, LIFE takes the administrative role such as student enrolment and administration, and looks for interaction with our partners. For instance, we channel our students' feedback to them to facilitate a certain degree of programme localisation," says Dr Fung. He adds that all students receive full support including online library access and e-learning platforms from LIFE as well as its overseas partners.
One of LIFE's partners is the UK-based Middlesex University Business School. The institution has jointly offered a bachelor of arts (honours) in business administration (BABA) final year top-up degree programme with LIFE since 2005.
Specially designed for holders of associate degrees and higher diplomas, the BABA top-up degree programme will offer a new option of one-year full-time day classes in the coming academic year in addition to its one-year full-time and two-year part-time evening classes.
According to Malina Siu, LIFE's manager of international programmes, a majority of graduates favour the practical aspects of the programme. "They are able to put classroom knowledge into their workplace," she says.
In one of the core modules "consulting to organisations", for example, students undertake real consulting projects during the summer. This helps them to get to grip with boardroom situations.
"Students are expected to apply the skills and knowledge they learn from other modules into the real cases, helping the organisations to make strategic decisions," Ms Siu adds.
Furthermore, a two-week bridging module is tailored to equip students with the essential learning techniques such as academic writing skills that are required for the final year of a bachelor's degree.
Aside from the well-received BABA top-up degree programme, LIFE is looking to complement its portfolio with a new bachelor of arts (honours) in business studies programme this October.
In collaboration with the University of Wales in the UK, the programme takes 18 months to complete on a part-time basis and is aimed at graduates of a higher diploma, associate degree or advanced diploma programme, as well as working adults without a degree qualification.
"As far as quality is concerned, small group teaching is arranged, allowing ample room for teacher-student interaction," says Ms Siu.
Founded in 1893, the University of Wales is the second-largest degree-awarding body in the UK. "Its heritage and the broad horizons of its faculty and management staff set the university apart and ensure the quality of the programme," Dr Fung stresses.
Most importantly, the University has plenty of experience in collaborating with higher education institutions in the Far East, particularly those in Hong Kong and China, making the programme a blend of western and eastern business studies.
One of the programme's key features is that students are introduced early onto the fundamental principles of four specialisations, namely management, accounting and finance, human resource management as well as marketing and logistics. "Students are familiarised with those disciplines during their first year of study so that they can choose their specialisation later," explains Kelvin Cheng, the institute's programme manager (marketing and programme development).
LIFE prides itself on it commitment to an extensive range of learning support including its top-of-the-range classroom facilities, learning resource centres, library and online tools.