Sandra Lu and Alfred Mak are studying for the College of Estate Management's (CEM) MBA in construction and real estate. It is by far the most popular CEM course among Hong Kong's 500 or so CEM students. Both chose CEM based on recommendations from former graduates and they see the MBA as a catalyst for career advancement in the property sector. They have recommended the course to friends and colleagues based on their experiences so far. There, however, the similarities end and their backgrounds and perspectives diverge. Mak is, at 33, an experienced real estate professional from Hong Kong with a bachelors degree in facilities management. He is a registered professional housing manager and a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Housing. For him, the MBA is an opportunity to add more general management skills to his body of housing-specific knowledge, and to benefit from the networking opportunities. In common with 70 per cent of all CEM students, he receives support for the course from his employers. Lu, a Chinese national who graduated in civil engineering from Suzhou in 2005, went to Shenzhen to work as a quantity surveyor for Hong Kong contractor Gammon and is a contracts executive. For her, the MBA is not only an opportunity to gain valuable training and a recognised qualification. It is also, she says, 'a measure of my ability to overcome the challenges in my future life, with time management skills, motivational and leadership decision-making capability and, of course, in a professional capacity, too'. It is also, for students from the mainland, a form of an international visa. The CEM MBA is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). The MBA in construction and real estate is awarded through the University of Reading and takes two years and nine months to complete on a part-time basis. There are two intakes per year, in September and March. Two-day face-to-face sessions are held in Reading in March and September, with accommodation on the Reading campus included in the fees.