There is more to lifelong learning than enrolling in the nearest MBA. Those wanting to either switch or kick-start existing careers should consider the variety of options at their disposal. 'The world is already saturated with MBAs and EMBAs,' says Professor Judy Tsui, vice-president (international and executive education) and director of the graduate school of business at Polytechnic University (PolyU). 'What do we need? Executive education should not just focus on business. It should also include engineering, design, hospitality. One of our strategic principles at PolyU is that advanced executive education should transcend different faculties and schools.' In addition to MBAs and EMBAs, the faculty of business administration at Chinese University also offers masters' programmes in different functional areas such as accounting, finance, and information and technology management, and research programmes leading to a master of philosophy or a PhD. Another option is to combine studies with more than one faculty. The decision as to whether a complete programme leading to a degree or an executive short course should be taken depends on a number of factors. One of the most important is whether prospective students want to change their careers or just need to fill in some specific gaps in their skills set. 'Whether to choose a master's programme or an executive short course depends on each individual's needs and time commitment,' a faculty spokesman says. Another important factor is how much time prospective students can devote to their studies. Pursuing a programme leading to a degree is not for the faint hearted. Balancing professional and personal commitments with a challenging academic programme can pose a serious challenge in terms of time management. It can also cause stress within the family. 'Time commitment could be another consideration,' the spokesman says. 'If one could afford a longer period of study from one to two years, a master's programme would be a good option. 'If he/she could only do a few days or a few months, an executive course should be considered.' The business school executive education office at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) offers what it calls 'open-enrolment' programmes. They run from a few days to a leading for success consortium that spreads 10 days of intensive learning over several months. It addresses the specific learning needs of senior executives and business leaders. 'We aim to provide a unique and rewarding learning experience to executives and managerial talent in corporations, local and overseas,' says Della Wong, associate director, HKUST business school executive education office. 'All our open-enrolment programmes are designed to fit the needs, budgets, and schedules of busy executives and business leaders.'