Academic qualifications are increasingly important, enhancing employees' income potential and marketability. With changing job descriptions, just "knowing how to do something" is no longer enough. Continuous education, enabling candidates to adapt rapidly to change, provides a competitive edge.
The City University of Hong Kong's School of Continuing and Professional Education (SCOPE) has been serving Hong Kongers' educational needs since 1991. One of its popular programmes is the top-up honours degree in business management offered in partnership with the UK-based University of Wolverhampton Business School (UWBS).
Queenie Lam, programme officer of SCOPE, says, "The programme is a UK degree awarded by the UWBS. It has been very well received in Hong Kong and we are currently preparing for our eighth intake." This is partly because of UWBS's high standards. The university is one of the UK's largest, with over 22,000 students. The Sunday Times' University Guide 2006 rated its degree programmes as excellent.
One of the programme's distinctive features is that the Hong Kong-based classes are conducted by experienced and knowledgeable UK academic staff who has taught around the world and will bring international insight into contemporary business practice. Students are therefore able to get the UK experience and understand the global business context without the expense of going overseas for their studies.
Participants typically enrol for the programme for personal growth. "Many participants study for the qualification out of practical needs, such as fulfilling a promotion requirement or job change," she says, adding that half of the students have five years' working experience or more. A recognised associate degree or higher diploma in a relevant discipline is the minimum requirement, but applicants who do not have the required qualifications may be considered on a case-by-case basis. And since the programme is taught by UK staff, students need a reasonable standard of English.
The programme differs from many other programmes on the market in that it is a two-year, part-time programme offered in "block mode", which allows students to better allocate their time for work and study. Instead of studying several different modules simultaneously, students only have to study one module at a time, each taking about seven weeks and delivered in three phases. Students can therefore fully concentrate on each module, which enhances better performance. To start off, students engage in two to four weeks of "pre-programme reading", requiring no physical attendance. This is followed by a block of eight consecutive days of face-to-face teaching, followed by three weeks of dedicated assignments and revision for examinations. This arrangement caters for working adults with busy schedules who have difficulty attending regular classes over a long period of time.
"The programme provides a solid foundation for further study and increased career opportunities. It provides students with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills such as teamwork abilities, goal setting, time- and project-management strategies, decision-making and business planning. These skills are useful in a wide range of enterprises, including government services," adds Ms Lam.