Reporter 404, 16 June 1997

Virtual MA opens door to the East

A new 'cyberspace' course at Leeds will help employees in the Asia Pacific learn more about the country they are living and working in and to benefit from the flexibility of a course taught over the Internet. In today's global economy it is increasingly likely that big businesses will post staff to work in overseas offices in this booming region.

The Department of East Asian Studies has been running an MA in Asia Pacific Studies for three years in Singapore and one year in Leeds. The new on-line programme will let students study for the degree wherever they are. This has enormous benefit for business people who are not able to take a year out to pursue their studies and also means that those who travel regularly will not miss out on lectures or seminars. Weekly lectures will be posted on the Department's web site and virtual seminars will be held by email.

Tom Wingfield, associate course director of this 'virtual' MA, says "the course is not designed to replace traditional MAs, but is meant to meet a demand for people who want to study but can't take the time off work." The course is taken over two years and covers the contemporary politics and economics of China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia.

The pilot project will start in October with five students, all of whom have some knowledge of the area and are working full-time. Through contacts with the UK and East Asian business community it is clear there is a demand for this way of teaching – either from staff already working in the region or those about to be posted.

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