Top-up programmes enhance competitiveness

by Grace Chan

News every month from the world of academia

(left to right)
Bernard Chan, programs director, ABRS Professional Learning Services;
Bernadette Ryan, principal lecturer, link tutor, business school
Nick Hand, academic director for development of Greater China
The University of Greenwich
Photo: Nolly Leung

An increasing number of employers are promoting continuous studies within their workforce. Business administration top-up degree programmes not only equip students with up-to-date business management and marketing knowledge, but also develop research skills which provide an extra edge in the fiercely competitive labour market.

Jointly offered by ABRS Professional Learning Services and the University of Greenwich in the UK, the bachelor (honours) of arts in business administration (BABA) final year programme is one such top-up degree. It comprises four modules, including business strategy, international business, contemporary issues in marketing and research methods plus a dissertation.

Bernadette Ryan, principal lecturer at the business school of the University of Greenwich, stresses that very few business administration programmes shed light on research skills. Conversely, the BABA programme devotes considerable resources to teaching research methods and developing the academic writing ability of student.

"When a degree qualification becomes a prerequisite in the employment market, this can help distinguish our students from others by helping them to demonstrate their academic capability to their prospective employers," she adds.

Degrees from the UK are widely accepted by employers in Hong Kong, and it is recognised that graduates are equipped with comprehensive knowledge in their discipline. "The additional values of the (BABA) qualification are that students are cultivated with critical thinking skills and academic competence," says Nick Hand, academic director for development of Greater China of the University of Greenwich.

The university prides itself on being a leading business school, with its finance, business and marketing programmes earning global recognition.

Another special feature of the BABA programme is an online simulation game, which Mr Hand considers an interesting teaching platform for students to learn to make business decisions.

"In a simulated situation, students take on the role of a company's board of directors and formulate strategic solutions through team work and discussions to tackle challenges that might happen in the real business world," he explains.

In addition to the design of the programme, the teaching quality is highlighted, with each module taught by two staff, one from the UK and the other from Hong Kong. "Academically, all of them are holders of master's or PhD degrees and are currently practising in the area that they teach," notes Bernard Chan, programs director of ABRS Professional Learning Services.

Mr Chan adds that the programme operates on a four-term basis, offering greater flexibility to prospective students as they need not wait a year for enrolment. "Throughout the programme, experienced students mix with new students, creating active classroom interaction," he says.

He points out that the majority of students are working adults who come from a diverse professional background including government, banking, IT and human resources. Mr Chan remarks, "Prospective students should have at least a higher diploma from a recognised tertiary education organisation or equivalent qualifications."

Aside from access to the University of Greenwich's digital library, students are granted exclusive access to the Morrison Hill library of the Vocational Training Council. Online teaching materials are also incorporated into the programme and regular reviews of course contents are conducted by both the UK and Hong Kong academic staff.

Taken from Career Times 15 May 2009, p. A10
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