Limited space at local universities is prompting secondary school students to pursue studies abroad, especially in Australia. The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Kensington, seven kilometres from downtown Sydney, is a particular favourite among Hongkongers. 'What attracts Hong Kong students is the university's brand reputation,' says Brett Cunningham, country manager of the UNSW's Hong Kong office. 'We have the largest population of alumni of around 6,000 people in Hong Kong. 'Australia is safe, open and friendly,' Cunningham says. 'Campuses are five minutes away from the beach and the [size] of the campus gives students space and freedom to focus on their studies.' While the university has been able to maintain a stable market in Hong Kong over the past five years, it is facing challenges caused by the declining birth rate and changing education system here, Cunningham says. Law, engineering and science, digital media, and arts programmes are popular among Hong Kong students at UNSW. Most popular are the programmes offered by UNSW's Australian School of Business, such as commerce and accounting. 'It has been a long-term trend for students to be more interested in business programmes,' Cunningham says. 'It is driven by the global environment.' He says that aside from the recent recession, the global financial market has been growing, making it an appropriate area of focus for young people. The global financial crisis has affected the education system, however, leading to an increased interest in non-business programmes, such as sciences and fine arts, Cunningham says. Regardless of the programme, UNSW aims at providing a quality learning experience focused on developing job graduates ready to work, he says. 'It is not just about getting an education and a degree, it's about setting students up for the future and getting them ready to join the workforce.' The university also encourages students to engage in cultural and sporting activities, and interest groups. The Hong Kong Students Society at UNSW provides a platform for students from the city to get to know and help one another, while sharing their learning experiences. Students interested in an Australian education, but without the time to attend lectures on campus, can take the part-time Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) Hong Kong MBA programme, designed for practising managers keen to develop and apply new skills. Since its launch in 1997, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-accredited AGSM MBA programme in Hong Kong has been a popular choice for those looking to sharpen their skills and build contacts. Students are required to attend weekend or evening classes focused on practical subject areas over a nine-day period. UNSW faculty members teach the programme. 'We aim at providing an entire experience to students,' says Cunningham, who is an associate director of the programme. 'One of the main attractions of these programmes, other than the professional faculty members, is the flexibility it provides to students since they can enter the programme at any time throughout the year.' The programme is delivered in an intensive modular format to help students balance their work and study commitments, while offering a wide choice of electives so they are able to tailor their studies to suit career goals.