Study in HK the US way

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 March, 2010, 12:00am

Study at university is a prerequisite for many to land a good job. However, in Hong Kong, where competition is fierce, some students find it a distant dream.

Upper Iowa University (UIU) is helping to fulfil the dream by offering an opportunity to study at the university - in Hong Kong.

Founded in 1857, UIU is a private, non-profit university with 6,000 students nationally and internationally. It is based in Fayette, Iowa in the United States. The Hong Kong campus, in North Point, was launched in 2006.

The 6,000-square-foot campus has seven classrooms, a multimedia room and a reading room. It provides a two-year Bachelor of Science programme with six majors, including psychology, management, accounting, financial management, marketing and management information system. Students who don't have the university-required five passes in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination can consider the one-year Fly High Foundation Programme, which allows them to enter the bachelor programme upon graduation. Six hundred students, including 200 full-timers and 400 part-timers have enrolled this year.

'Our campus is unique in the way that we follow the same teaching methodology and assessment standard as our main campus in the US,' says Michael Wu, registry officer at the Hong Kong campus. 'Our professors from the US will fly here to teach part of our programmes as well.'

Saya Chi Ka-man is one of the full-time students at the Hong Kong campus. 'I didn't do very well in HKCEE and it was difficult for me to get into any of the Hong Kong universities,' the psychology major says.

Chi says she is very impressed with the quality of teacher-student relationships at UIU. 'The teachers here are very patient and will answer our questions without hesitation,' she says. 'They are like our friends.'

Dr Angelis Chan, a psychology lecturer at UIU, says that the subject is a popular one because of its relevance to people's lives. Each year, more than 100 students enrol in the psychology department.

'Human behaviour is interesting for many people,' Chan says. 'Some may want to study it to become a psychologist or counsellor. Others, especially the part-timers, may want to study it for their own understanding. There are many useful skills which they can learn and apply to their workplace and personal relationships.'

Shirley Liu Yim-ha is one of the part-time students in the psychology stream. A human resources and administrative officer during the day, Liu finds the course totally practical for her work.

'Through the motivation course, which is my favourite, I've learned the meaning of enthusiasm towards work. I now realise that there are different strategies to motivate different types of people,' she says.

'And I have tried to apply some of the theories at work, and it seems effective.'

Before enrolling in the programme, Liu tried two lessons to see what it was like to study at UIU. 'I was surprised by how lively [the class] was. The lecturers used many examples and stories.

'Dr Angelis Chan is very humorous and helpful to his students. His passion towards his teaching stimulates and inspires me in many ways.'

Both students are working towards a career in counselling in the future.

'The opportunity given by UIU has helped me take a big step towards my professional career,' Liu says.