Lingnan offers new advanced degree with housing focus
Lingnan University’s School of Graduate Studies had a number of good reasons for deciding to introduce its new Master of Housing Policy and Management (MHPM) programme which is set to begin in September this year.
Some are linked to “internal” factors, for example a strategic plan that aims to expand the range of taught postgraduate courses with a clear professional orientation over the next five years. The key in this case was having a critical mass of teaching staff with the relevant expertise, making it possible to press ahead now.
Other drivers are “external”, in particular the recent surge in demand for new blood in property, housing, and real estate management in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (GBA). To some extent, this has been spurred by legislation which seeks to improve overall standards of professional competence. But it also reflects the sector’s continuing importance as an engine for investment, development and economic growth.
“Part of our vision is to train the talent to meet these strategic manpower needs,” says Professor Yau Yung, programme director of the MHPM. “But we also see an increasing number of prospective students interested in housing policy. In face of the affordability crisis in Hong Kong, as well as in other Asian cities like Shanghai, Seoul and Taipei, people are looking for viable solutions. For this, they need high-level training to analyse policy from different perspectives – social economic and environmental - and the knowledge and skills to inform decision making and advocacy.”
To that end, the MHPM will combine theory and practice and put particular focus on the use of smart technology and data analytics to improve efficiency and performance. On the policy side, it will also cover the rise of social or third-sector housing in Hong Kong and elsewhere plus the challenges facing NGOs or social enterprises involved in running transitional housing.
Students will be expected to complete nine core courses and electives, including a capstone project on a housing-related topic like government intervention in housing markets, for a total of 30 credits.
Instruction will be “research-informed” and delivered by a team of teachers with a multidisciplinary background, including experts in urban studies, real estate, social sciences, environmental studies, and geography.
Where appropriate, they will draw on findings from their ongoing research projects and encourage students to develop the critical thinking skills needed to make an impact.
The curriculum will also integrate essential aspects of facilities management and gerontology, an area which is becoming even more important as society ages and communities have to adapt accordingly.
With all this, the MHPM, which will be available in one-year full-time and two-year part-time modes, aims to position students to play a key role in dealing with the multiple challenges facing the housing sector in the coming years. And it will address questions central to the development of a sustainable built environment, smart cities, and the preservation of natural assets.
“Quality housing management should not just focus on the provision of basic services, but on community development too,” Yau says. “So, we will also teach hands-on skills, for instance in mediation and public relations, through active engagement in real-life situations and learning from activities like role-plays.”
Experienced industry practitioners will help to teach these practical elements, besides examining other contemporary and legal issues they give rise to.
In the post-pandemic era, due consideration will also be given to fast- emerging market trends. These include changing customer expectations about environmental hygiene in and around properties and progressively wider use of advanced technologies such as sensors, AI, robotics and IoT (the internet of things).
“Housing management professionals should know how to make use of these technologies to facilitate their work,” Yau says. “They must also recognise that communities now tend to be more polarised and diversified, which may create a need for additional facilities.”
He adds that the target for the first MHPM intake is 25-30 students. The basic requirement for candidates is a bachelor’s degree in any discipline and a proven standard of proficiency in English. The admissions team will also be looking for good communication skills, team players, and instances of creativity.
Most applicants are likely to have some prior experience in housing, property or facilities management or perhaps in asset, property market or policy research.
“Our programme also targets students who later plan to take a PhD or professional doctorate in fields such as real estate, housing studies, or urban governance,” says Yau, adding that the MHPM fulfils all level 6 generic descriptors in the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (HKQF).
In other respects, he is confident the new programme will help to reinforce Lingnan’s international standing. The university was in the Top 2 worldwide for Quality Education in the recent THE Impact Rankings 2023, which saw a significant jump too in several subject areas.