It is not often that Asian universities beat Ivy League institutions in the United States, but this year The University of Hong Kong (HKU) scored a first. Within its curriculum for the MSc Programme in Electronic Commerce and Internet Computing, Hong Kong University was able to offer studies on the cutting-edge topic 'Wireless Networking'. Developed by Professor Fouad Tobagi, the course was up and running in Hong Kong before a similar programme was introduced at the professor's home institution, Stanford University. That kind of light-speed programme development goes to the heart and spirit of the Internet. To keep ahead, programme administrators at HKU have sought to develop an international faculty, with about half the teaching staff recruited from overseas, according to programme director Paul Cheung. 'The programme's reputation is built on the fact that the best professors from HKU and overseas institutions and businesses are selected for each subject area,' Mr Cheung says. The programme is divided into two study streams, each catering to specific interest groups and skills sets. The Electronic Commerce stream is targeted at managers and decision makers whose underlying business is either directly related to technology or facing stiff competition from Internet-focused businesses. The Internet Computing stream is mainly for technically-oriented individuals who want to learn more about the nuts and bolts of the medium. Mr Cheung says the course outline is a response to the tremendous pressures created by the Internet, where change is felt in the type of goods and services offered and the structural organisation of the companies that deliver those services. 'The Electronic Commerce stream looks at how the Internet changes business processes and how business organisations are run,' says Mr Cheung. 'We have courses on business process re-engineering, with emphasis on how this redesign should be done in the light of developing technology and the Internet.' Students are free to develop their own study path. Participants in both streams must select from five core modules. They can then build on those courses with electives from their study stream and cross-listed modules. For example, the foundation programme in the Electronic Commerce stream is designed to help organisational leaders deal with the daily issues of managing in a technology-driven environment. There are also courses that look closely at technology development and the changing nature of business, such as Legal Aspects of IT and E-commerce. Other modules take a closer look at business models and how they work in the online world. Modules include Business Transformation and Process Re-engineering; E-commerce and the Network Economy, and E-commerce Technology. The elective stage of the programme offers several choices that focus on strategic issues. These include management of digital assets, e-marketing, supply chain management, convergence and development of digital content, customer relationship management, and business strategies and techniques. Helping students discover what works and what does not in the online economy is HKU's comprehensive business case-study library, which has a large collection dedicated to e-business. Those looking to the Internet Computing Stream will find a comprehensive curriculum that tackles bread-and-butter issues, Mr Cheung says. 'If you want to be in the Internet Computing stream, you must have basic competence in technology,' Mr Cheung says. 'It is a deeper type of technology programme. The student learns about Internet infrastructure, data mining, cryptography, multimedia computing, and how to manage digital assets.' The four cross-listed modules are open to both study streams. These are designed to foster interaction between students from the management and technology sides to find new solutions to cross-disciplinary problems. One of the hottest issues in the programme concerns legal rights and responsibilities in the online world. Mr Cheung says ownership of digital assets and concern over the unlicensed copying and usage of material will have a direct impact on investment and development down the road.