In today's economic climate, professionals need more than just a degree to survive. And with a host of new courses on offer, local universities are rising to the occasion Degree-holders hoping to further their qualifications are being offered a greater diversity of new courses ranging from Chinese medicine or risk management to geriatric rehabilitation. At the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), more than 40 postgraduate courses have been launched in the past four years. Among those planned for next year are an MPhil in Chinese medicine (which leads to a doctoral programme at CUHK), a master of science in exercise science, master of arts in women's studies, and an MBA in health care - a collaborative effort between the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Business Administration targeting health care executives. CUHK also plans to launch an MA in accountancy in conjunction with Shanghai's National Accounting Institute. The dean of the university's graduate school, Professor Kenneth Young, admits the increased number of courses has increased staff hours and put more pressure on resources, but said the demand for further education had never been greater. Most of the demand is for practical programmes with high market value, he says. And to meet these requirements, CUHK's new courses are interdisciplinary, thereby making students more competitive by broadening their knowledge. But while the new courses may be meeting the demands of professionals, students can expect to pay higher fees as most are offered on a self-financed basis in the absence of government funding. Annual fees at CUHK range from HK$41,000 to HK$80,000. These days, postgraduate programmes are also shorter in duration. For instance, it takes two years part-time to complete the master of science in sport and leisure management at Baptist University (at a cost of HK$84,000), or master of science in environmental and public health management (HK$90,000), launched this year at the same university. At the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology it takes one-and-a-half years to complete the master of technology management in global logistics management. Classes are held on weekends and students can stay on campus on Saturday nights. The self-financed programme, which costs HK$195,000, offers combined studies in business management and engineering sciences. Visits to Asian cities for first-hand experiences of logistics management are included. For those interested in cutting-edge designs for the entertainment industry in areas such as video games, the Polytechnic University (PolyU) is offering a one-year master's programme in multimedia and entertainment technology. Students in the HK$100,000 programme will learn development and production skills for online entertainment, digital media production, electronic toys and consumer electronics. The course is one year, full-time, or can be shortened to nine months, but students are required to go for a six-month placement, that is, they must take a short-term job for work experience. For nurses, social workers, occupational therapists or physiotherapists looking to further their qualifications, PolyU now offers two and a half years part-time master's programmes in manipulative physiotherapy, vocational rehabilitation and geriatric rehabilitation for HK$84,000. At the University of Hong Kong, public affairs and the intricacies of foreign policy and international political economy are taught in the new master of international and public affairs programme. The HK$66,000 one-year course (if taken on a full-time basis) focuses mainly on China and East Asia. Electives in law and business and a self-financed field trip to Tsinghua University or other institutions overseas are also offered. The 30 students currently enrolled in this programme are mid-career professionals, including staff from non-government organisations, journalists and senior government officials. The international and public affairs programme is a first in Hong Kong, according to programme director James Tang Tuck-hong. But similar courses could well be on their way. 'More people are aspiring to postgraduate education as there are a lot more university graduates than before,' he said.