Online MBA programme a top choice

by Ada Ng

Jack Lo, programme leader
master of business administration
Hong Kong CyberU
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Photo: Wallace Chan

Flexible executive education offers working professionals a balanced mix of personal interaction and web-based learning

An MBA qualification is highly valued, but given the many full- and part-time programmes on offer, it can be tough to choose the perfect business school.

Even in a small city like Hong Kong, there are more than 100 different MBA programmes on offer by local institutions or in conjunction with overseas bodies. Selecting the right learning platform is key for the investment to be worth the time and money, says Jack Lo, MBA programme leader, Hong Kong CyberU, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

Flexibility is crucial for busy professionals who have to accommodate frequent travel along with their daily work schedules.

Considering the growing demand for such programmes, the Hong Kong CyberU (HKCyberU), an affiliate of the PolyU, offers an online MBA programme in conjunction with Edinburgh Business School (EBS), based at Heriot-Watt University (HWU) in Scotland.

"The two-year part-time distance learning programme is specifically designed for working professionals in Hong Kong who want to gain further knowledge to advance their careers but work irregular hours or travel frequently overseas," says Dr Lo. "People without business degrees, but who are in middle to senior management roles in their companies, are also increasingly seeking an MBA education."

International focus

While some distance learning MBA programmes offer great flexibility but lack human interaction, the EBS MBA programme employs a "blended mode" of study that combines flexible web-based learning with face-to-face tutorials, Dr Lo points out.

"This complements students' work schedules and facilitates interaction between MBA candidates across the world. Our sophisticated online chat room enables open discussions and sharing sessions," he adds.

The programme includes a minimum of 15 hours' of face-to-face tutorials to reinforce learning. "Attendance is not mandatory, but the classes provide an opportunity for students to get together to share experiences and study tips while preparing for examinations," Dr Lo says. "An MBA programme is a projection of the real business world. It is as much about networking as it is about qualifications."

Ranked the second-largest distance learning MBA programme in the world by the Financial Times, it is a broad-based management degree with a strong international focus.

Students based in Hong Kong can enrol for the EBS MBA programme via HKCyberU. The online curriculum is designed by HWU, and tutorials conducted by PolyU lecturers.

Students who successfully complete all nine courses, comprising seven core courses and two elective courses, will receive the MBA degree from HWU. They can also receive intermediate postgraduate certificates or diplomas in business administration en route to their final MBA examination.

Global perspective

As a result of globalisation and the emerging economies in China and other developing Asian nations, business executives are no longer just solving problems in their own countries. "They must adopt a global business perspective," says Dr Lo.

HWU, in conjunction with partners across the world, currently has more than 10,000 students enrolled in the EBS online MBA programme. Students may choose from a range of languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. State-of-the-art IT facilities and EBS' strong alumni network connect students from different cultural and industry backgrounds across the globe.

Applicants to the EBS MBA programme usually possess a first degree or relevant professional accreditation, as well as three to five years of work experience. However, non-degree holders with an impressive employment history may be accepted as "visiting students".

Once these visiting students have passed three required courses, they will receive a postgraduate certificate in business administration and will then be able to proceed with the MBA programme along the usual route, Dr Lo remarks.

Students may take advantage of The Continuous Education Fund (CEF) reimbursement for five of the seven core subjects. A maximum of two exemptions from the core courses may be granted to students with relevant qualifications such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), ACCA and Project management Institute (PMI) certification.

Staying on course

  • Selecting the right MBA programme crucial to making the investment worthwhile
  • Two-year programme specifically designed for working professionals in Hong Kong
  • Blended mode of study combines web-based learning with face-to-face tutorials
  • High-tech IT facilities and strong alumni network connect students globally

Taken from Career Times 13 March 2009, p. A4
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