More than a qualification

by Alex Lai

Edward Fung (left), dean of the Community College and Further Education
Malina Siu, manager (international programmes)
Lingnan Institute of Further Education
Photo: Edde Ngan

Keen focus on education helps institute create a successful alcove

Since its establishment in 2001, the Lingnan Institute of Further Education (LIFE) has endeavoured to fulfil one of its main objectives: to collaborate with overseas and mainland institutions to help students obtain quality education.

Hong Kong students have access to numerous MBA programmes, but LIFE believes that the one it offers in conjunction with the University of Adelaide, a prestigious "Group of Eight" Australian university, is the perfect option for middle management business executives wanting to expand their academic horizons.

The part-time programme is conducted by lecturers from the university, who regularly travel to Hong Kong to run three-day teaching sessions. "Students receive 30 hours of face-to-face consultation with their tutors. Interaction is guaranteed," says Malina Siu, manager, international programmes, LIFE.

The institute's business school expects to be awarded accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the premier global accrediting agency of collegiate business schools and accounting programmes. "This is a recognition of our academic quality," Ms Siu notes. "Not many other institutions can offer an MBA programme on a par with those offered by the 'Group of Eight' Universities."

Expanding horizons

The collaboration between the two academic institutions commenced last year, explains Edward Fung, dean of the institute's Community College and Further Education.

"We share the same philosophy on education, so there is room for mutual interaction and contribution. At the same time, we are keen to strengthen our focus on quality teaching," says Dr Fung.

The University of Adelaide, established in 1874, is one of Australia's oldest and most prestigious universities. It is selective when choosing overseas academic partners to launch new MBA programmes. Dr Fung adds, "The programme has been well received by local students. Interestingly, it also attracts many overseas students based in Hong Kong."

The programme's student profile essentially differentiates it from others. Tuition fees are therefore higher than those charged by other institutions, reflecting the quality of the ultimate qualification.

Dr Fung notes that the lecturers visiting from the University of Adelaide to conduct classroom teaching are all on a professorial level. "With our solid backup, students are destined for success."

Learning modules are finely structured, incorporating the latest issues in the fast-changing global business world. "It is crucial that students are able to apply the theory they learn in class," Dr Fung points out.

The programme also stresses effective experience sharing among students, he says, adding that it is somewhat similar to an executive MBA (EMBA). Students get to establish a business knowledge framework while at the same time getting the opportunity to increase their potential for networking and further business opportunities.

"We have had some close interaction with MBA graduates from the University of Adelaide regarding their reasons for studying the programme in the first place," Ms Siu remarks. "We have also discovered that the alumni continue to share a bond once they have graduated, and that this has helped to fuel their personal development as well as their business interactions."

Pursuit of excellence

The institute limits student numbers to ensure quality education, stresses Dr Fung, explaining that small classes are part of Lingnan's core philosophy. However, in the course of their studies, students do get the chance to interact with counterparts with similar business backgrounds in other Asian countries.

Some of the programme's elective courses, responding to current economic and business needs, include business intelligence, company failure and renewal, knowledge management and business in East Asia. Dr Fung believes the programme combines the best of Eastern and Western business practices by capitalising on the strengths and knowledge bases of Lingnan and the University of Adelaide.

Apart from business programmes, the University of Adelaide is also launching mining and agricultural programmes in collaboration with universities in mainland China. This will serve to open up more communication channels between students in Hong Kong and those on the mainland, Dr Fung believes.

LIFE is investing substantial resources to support the programme, Ms Siu concludes. "There are three learning centres with lecture theatres, multi-media classrooms, library facilities and loan notebook computers. Simply put, we are running an extra branch of the university downtown."


Taken from Career Times 15 May 2009, p. A7
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