As the workplace becomes more competitive, professionals are increasingly aware of the significance of academic qualifications.
Some mature students may not have a solid background, but they often make up for it with years of work experience and the necessary potential to successfully complete a university degree.
"While academic qualifications may contribute to successful learning, we highly value practical managerial experience," says William Chow, president, International Academy of Management (IAM).
In this regard, aside from accepting applicants with bachelor's degrees, the academy also welcomes non-degree holders with a minimum of two years' managerial experience, for its MBA programme.
"Many of our mature students play a central role at work, while performing very well in classes too," Mr Chow adds.
Committed to the training and education of managers and IT professionals, IAM has partnered with the University of Wales, Newport (UWN), a major UK-based education institute, to offer Hong Kong students a 14-month master of business administration (MBA) programme.
Since getting into an unfamiliar study routine and adjusting to the academic environment can be challenging for mature students who have no previous university experience, the academy helps them by offering convenient schedules and flexible payment plans, Mr Chow notes.
Lectures and tutorials are conducted in English or Chinese. Students are required to complete 40 "contact hours" per subject with teaching staff. These sessions take place on weekend afternoons so that students with full-time jobs are able to attend.
Students usually finish all eight required courses including subjects such as Managing People, Managing Information, Operations Management, Strategy and the Environment, Managerial Problem Solving, Managing Complexity, Innovation, and Strategic Marketing Challenges in eight months. They are then free to concentrate on their 20,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. The MBA qualification is the same as the qualification earned by students graduating from UWN in the UK.
To help ease potential financial burden, the academy offers a special instalment plan. Part of the programme has also been included in the list of reimbursable courses under the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) scheme. Students who have financial difficulties can also apply for non-means tested loans offered by the Student Financial Assistance Agency.
These factors ensure that lack of time and money does not prevent ambitious adults from pursuing further studies, Mr Chow notes.
The MBA programme is supported by academic staff based in Hong Kong and the UK.
"It's great that our students have the benefit of such high-quality education without the financial challenges of overseas school fees and living expenses," says Mr Chow.
The MBA programme provides working professionals with a way to balance their job responsibilities with their studies. "Going back to school when you are older can be a liberating experience. I encourage mature students to seize this opportunity to learn and to further their careers possibilities," Mr Chow concludes.