ACCOUNTANT PAULINE LAI had always wanted an overseas study experience, but she was hesitant to take the plunge and give up her job. So when overseas institutions began setting up campuses in Hong Kong it was a dream come true for her. Without having to give up her work or family life, she enrolled in the Manchester Business School (MBS) MBA programme, and completed the course in 2004. Ms Lai said that taking part in the Hong Kong programme was as good as doing it overseas. The lectures were conducted by professors from Britain and her classmates came from around the world. 'Even at work we don't have this much interaction with so many different nationalities,' she said. One of her fellow MBA students, Lawrence Lai, a senior project manager at a local technology company, studied for his engineering degree after moving to Toronto, Canada, with his family. He said the main difference between studying overseas and studying for an overseas degree locally was the absence of a campus, although he did not think this was important for part-time students. He said the cost of studying overseas full time would have been too high for him. 'A full-time programme is good for those who are about 27 or 28 years old and thinking of a career change. But for those of us who just want to enhance our job prospects, the opportunity cost is too high,' he said. Christina Siu, director at the MBS East Asia Centre, noted that part-time courses were gaining in popularity because 'globalisation facilitates distance learning'. Mr Lai agreed. 'The content of our course is no different from the MBA programme at the British campus,' he said. 'We have the same professors. What is more, the calibre of the local teachers exceeded my expectations.' Tony Tsang, a second-year EMBA student at the Richard Ivey School of Business, also considered going overseas but decided to do the programme in Hong Kong instead. 'Studying overseas gives you a taste of living with a local family, but it is also costly,' he said. He recalled the cost - more than HK$200,000 - of a bachelor of commerce degree when he was in Toronto from 1992 to 1996. With this in mind, he decided to stay in Hong Kong for his EMBA, particularly as he had just got married. 'We have the same professors and the same diversity of people as overseas. Besides, you always have the option of continuing the course in Canada if you want to move,' he said.