We learn something new every day, particularly so at work where we have to keep up with an ever-changing environment. Our careers often depend on how fast we learn and retain new information. Thus, taking up postgraduate studies to further career goals or to open doors to new career opportunities seems like a natural form of advancement.
Whatever the reason, a tremendous shift has taken place in how people learn thanks to widespread Internet connection and broadband penetration. Educational institutions are responding to that shift by offering part-time or online study options for busy working people so they can achieve their desired qualifications in a faster, more practical way.
Masters and Doctorate Programmes
Adult learners can choose from a variety of postgraduate programmes and take them on at their own pace, either on a full or part-time basis, or via online learning. This kind of flexibility is one of the biggest benefits of the open distance learning (ODL) concept that many universities offer.
ODL is a blend of various study options: students may study from home – or any place with a stable Internet connection – and submit assignments and coursework via email or a shared digital platform. Part-time learners often have to fulfil a number of class hours that don’t disrupt their work schedule, which usually happen in the evenings.
Online programmes are ideal for students who live far from the university campus or have an otherwise inflexible schedule. In these cases, exams can be taken on campus, at an examination centre or even online.
This is the type of format used by Wawasan Open University for their popular Commonwealth Executive Master of Business Administration (CeMBA). The degree has been offered as a fully online programme since its commencement at the start of the semester in 2017.
Wawasan Open University also offers the CeMBA as an ODL module at the same course fee as its online equivalent. This CeMBA programme can be completed in a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years depending on the number of course subjects a student chooses per semester. In this programme, tutorials and course materials are uploaded online and assignments are submitted to tutors via an online submission system.
Many other exciting postgraduate programmes are available at local universities in collaboration with overseas institutions of higher learning, like the University of Greenwich and the University of Nottingham amongst others.
SEGI University has flexible Masters programmes in Business Administration, Education, Professional Accountancy and Financial Planning, as well as Masters of Science in Engineering, Engineering Management and Telecommunication Engineering with the latter two in collaboration with the University of Sunderland.
Universities also provide greater flexibility and affordability for researchbased doctoral studies. Students in these types of programmes are usually assigned to one or two academic supervisors and start with Master of Research (MRes) or Master of Philosophy (MPhil) dissertations to train for the more advanced PhD programme thereafter. Full-time PhD programmes can usually be completed within three years, while part-time researchers may take up to five or six years to finish.
The PhD programmes at the University of Nottingham Malaysia campus typically work in this timeframe, so completing a PhD on a part-time basis here can take up to four or six years depending on the research area chosen. Quick information on the doctoral programme application process, entry requirements, as well as available scholarships and research funding initiatives can be found on the University of Nottingham Malaysia’s website.
Some PhD degrees at the university are even offered on a split-scheme basis, allowing candidates to complete a part of the degree in Malaysia and the remaining part in the UK. The Pharmacy research programme is a notable example of this. Keep in mind that the part-time study option for this doctoral course currently applies to Malaysian students only.
Even after years of work experience in a given field, many professionals will opt for training courses to ensure their abilities and skills are on par with industry standards worldwide. Unsurprisingly, training centres and human capital development specialists are not the only institutions who are rising to meet this demand in working professionals.
For instance, Taylor’s University established the Taylor’s Centre for Continuing Professional Education in 1996, providing courses tailored to meet industry-specific needs and promote better leadership and productivity in organisations among many other objectives.
This centre organises seminars, corporate training and industry certification programmes – even offering a three-day International Certificate in Wine and Spirits (WSET) Level 2 programme in 2017, an internationally-recognised wine training course for hospitality industry staff.
Similarly, the Professional Plus Series at Brickfields Asia College consists of short weekend law courses open to both undergraduates and professionals looking to improve their practical knowledge in specialist areas like oil and gas law, construction law and practice, employment law and commercial contracts.
Programmes for Corporate Executives and Entrepreneurs
The way that companies manage people and finances has changed drastically and will continue to do so, prompting the need for enhanced skillsets and key market insights in senior-level officers.
This is reflected in courses like the Leadership 4.0 Portfolio offered by the K-Pintar human capital development training centre, in collaboration with the esteemed Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. The Leadership 4.0 Portfolio (targeting business owners, leaders of small-to-medium enterprises and senior officials in corporations) ranges from three days to six weeks in duration.
It consists of a portfolio of corporate education programmes to equip professionals with the know-how to increase growth and productivity in their organisations while taking into consideration the widespread technological and social changes they face.
Facilitated by professors from top business schools, these internationally-recognised executive programmes teach leadership and business strategy skills. The Asia School of Business offers rigorous MBA programmes in collaboration with the MIT Sloan School of Management, a 20-month full-time course inclusive of collaborative projects, field trips, industry partnerships and a four-week residential programme at the MIT Sloan campus in the US.
The work-study balance requires a great deal of discipline and sacrifice. Time must be managed extremely well between assignment deadlines, work matters and family obligations, so sometimes the risk of burnout may seem too close for comfort. Yet, it’s a challenge that many people are willing to take on to have a more rewarding career and a better quality of life in the long run.