It’s back-to-school time again, and among the ranks of new university students are working professionals.

Two new adult learners at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou say despite the challenges of returning to school after years away, they believe it’ll be worth it. Both plan to complement their professional skills with masters degrees from XJTLU’s International Business School Suzhou.

Back to school again

While Hamed Azimidizaj has become an experienced engineer and manager over nearly 15 years in the automotive industry, he wants to broaden his knowledge. Originally from Iran, he’s lived in China for five years and is Technical Manager and Advisor at Suzhou Hengmei Electron Technology Inc.

Hamed Azimidizaj at a conference about trending new automotive technologies

“Now I see that experience alone is not enough. You need to bring knowledge to the industry in order to make improvements, and I’m seeking to learn more so that I can make a change,” he says.

To build up his knowledge base, he enrolled in thepart-time MSc Project Management programme at IBSS. He says all the programme’s compulsory modules together are equally necessary to make a project successful, but he’s interested especially in risk management and stakeholder management.

At Weiss-Voetsch Environmental Testing Instruments (Taicang) Co., Ltd., Qin Qian, Marketing Manager, is charged with implementing the German company’s new business development. One of her goals is to build a system to expand the company’s business with new markets in China.

Qin Qian on business trip

In today’s competitive business world, just keeping up with rapid technological advances is not enough, she says.

“How can I help my team become more innovative? How can we successfully break into new markets? I’ve been pondering these questions for two years, and eventually I came to believe the best way is to further my studies in this field,” she says.

Qian has enrolled in the part-time International MBA programme at XJTLU to help find her answers.

When comparing business schools, she was particularly impressed with IBSS’s “Triple Crown”, she says. IBSS recently became one of just over 100 business schools worldwide to accumulate all three Triple Crown accreditations: AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUIS (EFMD Quality Improvement System) and AMBA & BGA (Association of MBAs and the Business Graduates Association).

Benefits for adult learners

Both incoming students say XJTLU offers attractive features for adult learners and working professionals.

For Azimidizaj, being able to study in English, part-time, at a university in China was key.

“It is difficult to find an international university that can teach postgraduate programmes in English and also accept part-time students,” he says.

“I’m living and working in China but I don’t know Chinese very well. To be able to have a better understanding of Chinese language, culture, markets, and society, it is best if I could study in an international university located in China.”

Qian, a Chinese citizen, was relieved that she didn’t need to prepare for China’s National Postgraduate Entrance Examination (NPEE) to apply to XJTLU. Despite a supportive family and company, she found balancing work, family life and entrance exam study too difficult.

“It was requiring a lot of effort to prepare for the NPEE, especially the advanced mathematics, which I haven’t touched for a long time. Therefore, I think the XJTLU application system is more suitable for me.”

Added attractions

Azimidizaj says seeing the well-equipped facilities on a modern campus during his visit to XJTLU helped seal the deal for him.

“My first impression of the campus was that this is the place I want to study,” he says.

He also enjoyed positive interactions with the staff. “An essential part of the decision was the connection to the staff. Unlike some schools with more of a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude, here at XJTLU I never felt this way. I have made several contacts between university staff already, even before starting classes.”

Both incoming students cite XJTLU’s international environment as a factor that attracted them.

All students at XJTLU graduate with internationally recognised degrees. Azimidizaj and Qian will each earn a masters degree from the University of Liverpool in the UK that is recognised by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

For students considering further study, Azimidizaj says Suzhou provides a comfortable environment, with its mix of modern amenities and ancient culture.

Qian advises others thinking about going back to school to make careful decisions and then pursue goals wholeheartedly.

“Sometimes, choice is more important than effort. Making good decisions matters because mistakes are expensive,” says Qian.

“But once you’ve decided, you should chase it down with everything you’ve got. Life is too short to wait.”

By Xinmin Han

Photo by Hamed Azimidizaj, Qin Qian

Edited by Tamara Kaup, Patricia Pieterse

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