An increasing number of professionals with bachelor's degrees are enrolling in postgraduate programmes to stay competitive. Clubhouse management, management consultancy and information technology are among the most sought-after postgraduate options. Local institutions have also seen a significant enrolment increase in their top-up degree programmes, some of which are offered in collaboration with overseas universities. Full-time, top-up undergraduate degree programmes are proving popular among associate degree or high diploma graduates, who want to obtain these more advanced academic qualifications to sharpen their competitive edge. Many local companies require an undergraduate degree for entry-level positions. 'The top-up programmes allow these students to earn undergraduate degrees in less than two years before they enter the job market,' says Dr Victor Lee, director of Chinese University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCS). SCS has introduced a part-time, 18-month professional diploma in club management in response to the growing demand for managers specialising in overseeing clubhouse facilities. 'A growing number of residential projects in Hong Kong feature clubhouses encompassing a comprehensive range of facilities and amenities. The skills and knowledge required to manage a clubhouse are quite different from the skill sets for hotel management,' Lee says. Most of the students who enrol in the programme are junior or middle managers in the hotel and real estate sectors, and many of them hold degrees. 'They believe the additional academic qualification will help accelerate their career advancement,' he says. SCS's professional diploma in management consulting is also proving popular. 'Many professionals are keen to enter the consulting business. The prerequisite for a good consultant is a thorough understanding of the needs of clients. 'We have developed a systematic training course to help them nurture the relevant skills and acquire the knowledge,' Lee says. Programme applicants must have an undergraduate degree in business or engineering-related disciplines, and relevant work experience. As advertisers seek to cash in on burgeoning online audiences, SCS has launched a diploma in creative advertising in multimedia, aimed at upgrading the skills and technical knowledge of students and other individuals, particularly those in advertising design and sales. The course aims to help them take advantage of the unique features of multimedia for advertising purposes. 'Students with diverse professional backgrounds have enrolled. They include experienced journalists and professionals in the media. 'There are also some computer programmers, who have worked for around two years but want to acquire specialised skills for commercial applications,' Lee says. Polytechnic University's School of Professional Education and Executive Development (SPEED) focuses on top-up degrees to meet the demand from associate degree graduates. 'We have recorded an average of 25 per cent increase in the enrolments in the top-up degree programmes in the year 2010-2011 compared with the previous academic year,' says Dr Jack Lo, director of SPEED. The school's most popular offerings include the bachelor of arts in marketing and public relations, travel industry management, and the scheme in business programme, which combines finance and international business. Lo attributes the strong demand for the degree in marketing and public relations to its combination of two highly specialised areas. 'Tourism and related fields are among the three main economic pillars of Hong Kong and have continued to grow rapidly. The demand is strong for well-trained professionals from hotels, and operators of inbound and outbound tours,' Lo says. 'Hong Kong is a regional financial centre. Around 1,300 multinational corporations have established their regional headquarters in the city and they seek a growing number of graduates with an international outlook. 'That's why more students have enrolled in the BA scheme in business programme, which focuses on finance and international business.'