The Lions Club of Metropolitan Hong Kong has launched the world's first Lions Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programme as part of its commitment to extend business education to the community. The part-time programme is being offered via a distance learning with tutorial format through Deakin University, Australia, and the Poon Kam Kai Institute of Management. The course is open to LionsClub members or those sponsored by a Lions member. The programme can be completed in a minimum of two years to a maximum of 10. Thirty spots are available. Unlike other distance-learning MBAs, the programme is unique in that it offers Hong Kong-specific units pertaining to the local business community. Students will undertake units in managing in Hong Kong and Asia, legal framework and practices in the SAR and managerial analysis and implementation skills. 'To make the managing in Hong Kong and Asia unit-relevant, we intend to develop case studies using real Hong Kong companies,' Gregg Li, general manager of the Poon Kam Kai Institute, said. 'The course will be taught by local professionals and the materials graded by Deakin. We will look at the cultural contexts of how you manage a workforce used to working quickly and how you can improve on that using Western models.' In the legal framework unit, the growing area of legal practices in the mainland will be explored while managerial analysis will look at leadership training, teamwork and what a person hopes to give back to society. Mr Li, a Lions member, said the programme was started as part of a goal to revitalise the organisation. The mandate was to get top professionals from each industry, bring them to the organisation and create something worthy of the Lions name. The Lions have more than 1.4 million members worldwide, including about 2,000 in Hong Kong and Macau. The American-based group is a non-political, non-sectarian service organisation dedicated to serving the community. The Metro Lions chapter started in 1995 with the aim of making improvements to Hong Kong's education standards. The group organises annual strategic workshops with international speakers and runs a business mentoring forum with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. 'The Lions Club exists to help its own members and to better society. Increasingly, we are heading to a society where, if you are in business, it is beneficial to have an MBA. There is always value in getting an MBA from top schools,' Mr Li said. 'Our target audience is senior management who have different needs. Most of them yearn to have an academic degree but have been concentrating on building their business. Now they want something to sharpen their skills, learn new skills and show they have done so.' Students are required to take 12 units to receive their MBA, including two electives. Each unit takes about five to six months to complete and requires about three hours of home study a week, a once-a-month group discussion tutorial and an optional session with a tutor. During the first part of the programme, students study towards a graduate certificate with courses in management perspective, financial management and managing in Hong Kong and Asia. Part two, studies towards a graduate diploma, includes units in economics decision- making, legal framework and practices in Hong Kong and managerial analysis and implementation skills. Each part takes a minimum of six months to complete. The final portion, studying towards an MBA, requires a year to complete and includes units in marketing, strategic management, management information sys tems and human resources management. Study material for the programme includes books, periodicals, CD-ROMs and videos. The programme is portable and students can correspond with Deakin faculty via e-mail, by phone, or in person with instructors at Poon Kam Kai. Participants require a degree in engineering, science or a related discipline and five years experience in senior management. There are also spots available for individuals with relevant managerial experience who lack a first degree. 'Part of why we are offering this programme is to attract people to our organisation,' Mr Li said. 'We organised this programme because we wanted something which was our own. Our members wanted something which would help them to continue learning in a structured format where they could study in their own time. Ultimately, their business always comes first and this addresses those needs.' No GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is required for entrance although participants must be able to achieve a TOEFL score of 550 or IELTS score of 6.5. The programme costs $32,000 for the certificate, $32,000 for the diploma and $128,000 for the entire MBA degree. Deadline for applications is May 28.