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Part-time Study and Professional Development in Hong Kong

There is an irony to study in Hong Kong. Despite it being one of the busiest places on Earth, this is the place where you are most likely to start and finish a part time course even though you are working crazy hours.

There are many reasons for this. Maybe it’s the competitive nature of Hong Kong and the need to stay ahead. Maybe it’s the constant intimidation of receiving name cards with hundreds of qualifications or just a yearning to change.

Whatever the reasons, Hong Kong facilitates the process by offering a huge variety of courses at numerous locations. These course are reasonably priced (compared to other counties), designed for those that work and are in English. Also many overseas universities have arrangements with local education centers that allow them to teach their overseas curriculum in Hong Kong. This means you can often get a qualification from your home country in Hong Kong. Alternatively, many overseas universities offer remote based teaching which can be done via the internet in Hong Kong (although often there is a requirement to visit these universities at some point to complete some studies there).

On top of all this, Hong Kong society is very supportive of education and those that are making the extra effort to study and work. This is a complete contrast to many other countries where additional study is seen as a waste of time and unlikely to achieve anything. This is definitely not the way in Hong Kong so when you take the plunge, make sure you are ‘loud and proud’ about it because you will receive plenty of encouragement which will help you through the tough times that come with part-time study.

I think it is also important to believe that additional study and professional development really does make a difference to you personally, your thinking  and your career. It may seem like a long slog for little reward at the time but when the course is over and you look back, you will be surprised at the change. Your thinking will be more sophisticated,  you will be more confident and you will be more up to date. Additional study is not just about acquiring knowledge, it is about growth. Spending time studying, learning and reflecting changes you. We all change but formalised study accelerates that process. You may not be wealthier (but all the studies suggests that better educated means better paid) but you will be wiser.

There are, however, down sides to study. The big one is the loss of time which is a huge sacrifice in Hong Kong. You will become more efficient with your time management when you have to study but there will still be a time sacrifice. This will be at least one evening a week and usually sometime over the weekend to read and complete course work. Also the more serious you take the course, then there is more sacrifice. This is a tough call especially when you are enjoying life in Hong Kong or in a relationship. All I can say is that things move fast in Hong Kong and before you know it, that period of study will be over. Moreover you will look back and say it was worth it. I have yet to meet anyone who said they wished they had studied less!

A couple of thoughts about part-time study:
1) I think it is important to think about why you are doing it and what you hope to get out of it. This will encourage you when study and help to keep the momentum going when you graduate. It is also important during your studies as knowing what you are interested in allows you to focus your studies in those areas and provides valuable direction when you are picking subjects and deciding on a dissertation for example;

2) Picking your place of study. This can be tricky. Ideally you want a place that is close to your workplace and also where you live. This will save time and allow you to pop in at weekends for quiet study. I personally think this is very important and can make a big difference to the quality of your study and your grades. However this has to be tempered against where your course is available, reputation of the institution, facilities, etc. A good library that is open seven days a week is an important resource for many courses. All the big Hong Kong universities have very good if sometimes crowded libraries;

3) Internet based and correspondence type courses require a huge amount of self discipline. I am of the view that these courses are far more difficult than traditional teacher based courses. Formal classroom study provides structure and immediate feedback from educators. There is also a social element in that you meet new people and this provides added incentive which you don’t get on self study course. Think seriously about the requirements of self study and if you are in doubt, go for class room based courses.

Most people in Hong Kong will at some point think about additional study. Don’t let your fears and home town assumptions cloud your mind on this important opportunity. Hong Kong makes part-time education work. If you always wanted to study something then this is probably one of the best times to do it. I am sure it will change your life as much as it did mine.

Keith Keown

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