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Executives Return to Classroom for MBA

While many are still in bed at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, the Sino-US program for Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Beijing University starts its regular weekend sessions, and the students, some of whom senior executives at transnational corporations, are all punctual.

Some of them even have to travel a thousand kilometers to attend the course. Cheng, an accounting manager at the regional headquarters of a US company in Shanghai, flies to Beijing every Friday night for the two-day lectures.

"I was posted to Shanghai shortly after I was admitted to the MBA program in 2000," said Cheng, "To spare the weekend, I have to work extra hours all during the week."

More and more white collars like Cheng are seeking to update their knowledge, driven by a growing insecurity of their current position in the tough competition with their younger rivals who have received more systematic trainings.

A survey carried out in a recent talent fair for information technology (IT) professionals in Shanghai, an economic powerhouse in east China, shows that 63.7 percent of the well-educated people are worrying about the rapid knowledge update, which is believed to have constituted the number one stress in their life.

Of the 1,000 surveyed, 92 percent are engineers. Some 97 percent of them have received college education, 21 percent hold a master's degree and 6 percent a doctor's degree.

Since the country's accession to the World Trade Organization, more Chinese have doubled their efforts to improve their knowledge structure by attending various courses on weekends and public holidays. English, computer, law, international accounting and business administration are among their top choices.

It is not just the diploma that they cherish, but also the actual process, in which they have made painstaking efforts and been progressing all along.

In most Sino-foreign MBA programs, the students have a lot of reading and writing assignments after each lecture, and they are expected to hand in an English essay at the end of each week. The yare under constant pressure, as an average 10 to 15 percent of the MBA candidates are washed out each year, either because of poor academic performance or frequent absence.

But the majority of them have persisted and have enjoyed their study, motivated by practical needs and encouraged by their peers.

"When I was at school, I studied in order to pass exams," said Lan, "Now I'm seeking further training in order to save my job."

"I feel so tired at the end of each day that I fall asleep as soon as I lie on my pillow," he admitted. Very often, Lan has to work on night shift after spending a whole day at school, "But I enjoy this busyness," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2002)

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