While brick-and-mortar educational institutions remain as important as ever, online learning is a growing option. Traditional educational boundaries are disappearing as tertiary institutions capitalise on the benefits of online tuition such as larger student numbers, the greater economic benefits of producing online materials and stronger international partnerships.
People aiming to better equip themselves for the knowledge-based world can now access the MBA programme offered by the University of Wales via an online learning mode which complements optional face-to-face tutorials. The university has formed a partnership with Informatics Education (HK) Ltd bringing the programme to Hong Kong students.
The university is the degree-awarding authority while Informatics deals with administrative matters regarding enrolment and tutorial support in Hong Kong. "The online learning mode allows the university to reach a much larger audience than traditional face-to-face modes. Two kinds of programme delivery are available. Students may choose to study online and attend weekend workshops conducted by a subject specialist to supplement their studies. Alternatively, they can complete the entire programme online," notes Margaret Chui, director of operations and academic affairs, Informatics Education (HK) Ltd.
Informatics has established strategic partnerships and alliances with reputable universities around the world. It currently provides Hong Kong students with an affordable route to acquiring internationally recognised qualifications. Set up in 1983, it is a publicly listed company in Singapore with its Hong Kong operation opening in 1992. As one of the key players in the provision of professional qualifications in Hong Kong, Ms Chui notes, "Students are our first priority. Our work is guided by our motto, 'Serve with our hearts, educate with sincerity'. We have a team of professionals to take care of an array of student needs."
Ms Chui adds that Informatics ensures its partnering organisations also put students' interests before anything else.
The University of Wales boasts over 100 years of teaching experience. It is the second largest degree awarding body in the UK. "We are confident that the MBA programme provided by the University of Wales can bring tremendous benefits to our students," comments Ms Chui.
The programme is composed of 10 compulsory modules, which include nine taught modules and a dissertation. It aims to empower students with all-round knowledge in business administration, for example, modern management theories, financial and managerial accounting, marketing management and corporate strategy. Students also become familiar with information systems (IS) and information technologies (IT) as the two concepts play a crucial role in business competitiveness nowadays. Assessment methods include coursework, written examinations and active participation. To complete the programme, students need to submit a final dissertation.
The programme is delivered via PurpleTrain.com, a global e-learning provider. Ms Chui remarks, "PurpleTrain.com is wholly owned by Informatics. It is an advanced e-learning platform and the largest e-learning provider outside the US with over 72,000 users." The e-learning platform comes complete with real time communication tools, which are employed in e-lectures aiding communication between the instructor and the students and among the students themselves. Students log in to participate in a lecture, which counts towards their attendance. Moreover, during lectures, messages can be conveyed in real time and students can respond to questions or feedback prompted by the instructor or other students instantly, creating an interactive learning environment.
According to Ms Chui, there are students from many countries, mostly in Asia, participating in the programme. This facilitates valuable cultural exchange between students. Online learning has a host of other benefits as well. "Economic pressure makes it difficult for individuals to take a few years off from work to study full time. With online graduate degrees, students can have their qualifications enhanced while at the same time continuing working. They can attend a course at anytime from anywhere with Internet access. In addition, our online instructors are located worldwide. This gives students opportunities for international exposure," explains Ms Chui.
Ms Chui notes that an MBA is now necessary for many career breakthroughs or when entering new fields. "An MBA offers a range of soft skills required in any managerial position. Graduates gain teamwork skills, an understanding of the various business functions and insights into human behavioural patterns. Situations can be assessed from different angles. Many employers now see MBA training as something essential for organisational success," Ms Chui remarks.
A recognised bachelor's degree is required for admission to the programme. Non-degree holders or mature students aged 25 or above with a minimum of two years' relevant work experience are also considered on a case by case basis.