Associate degree provider warned over ads

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 August, 2001, 12:00am

The Education and Manpower Bureau has formally warned a local course provider over an unregistered associate degree programme it has been offering.

The warning was prompted by an advertisement which ran in Ming Pao newspaper and Recruit magazine two weeks ago promoting an associate degree programme from Upper Iowa University (UIU).

A bureau spokesman said a written warning was issued last week. 'We will keep an eye on the case. If they repeat the offence, we will follow up with prosecution which will mean involving the police,' the spokesman said.

The institution has registered two Upper Iowa University Bachelor of Science courses with the Non-Local Courses Registry, one majoring in accounting and one in management. Although both courses are run at the same institution, they are registered under different names, the first under the Open Institute of International Education and the second under Ramus International Ltd.

The EMB warning was issued to Ramus for advertising an associate degree programme alongside its Bachelor programmes. The advertisements that led to the warning gave a registration number, but this was the registration number for the management BSc.

The advertisement was directed at post-secondary students and read: 'great opportunities for Form Five graduates to further their studies'. According to the ad, students who have not not done well in their HKCEE can also apply as school grades as well as public examinations will be accepted as entry requirements.

'If an institution has a four-year Bachelor Degree programme, they must apply for registration of an intermediate course,' the bureau spokesman said. Purely distance learning courses do not have to register. In an effort to maintain educational standards, courses that offer face-to-face teaching must register.

An Education Post reporter, posing as a student, visited the centre before the warning was issued and was told by a UIU Hong Kong Centre admissions officer that a two-year full-time associate degree in management would involve 15 hours of face-to-face teaching each week.

The officer said that the programme cost $62,000 and was to begin in October. Students who successfully completed it would be eligible to take the third and fourth years of the Bachelor programme either in Hong Kong or Iowa, she said.

UIU director Eddy Lau yesterday said the warning had only asked UIU to 'confirm the nature' of the course.

'The Associate Degree programme that we advertised is conducted through distance learning, which is also clearly stated in the advertising,' he told Education Post.

'Upper Iowa University has been offering Associate Degree programmes for years through on-campus study in Iowa, US, and also through External Degree programme, which is basically conducted through correspondence and the Internet.

'Purely distance learning courses do not require registration with the EMB. This is also included in our reply to the EMB [about the warning].'

UIU Hong Kong Campus yesterday ran a quarter-page advertisement in Ming Pao advertising its associate degree programme as a distance learning course. According to the advertisement, the focus of the first year of the programme will be English, computing and liberal studies.