Education: London Courses - Balance study and security - and boost your career

Universities across the capital offer units that can be tailored to fit your financial circumstances, says Maureen O'Connor
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The prospect of fees and loans seems to have put off some of the adult students who normally enter higher education at this time of year. But in London, one of the world's major financial centres, there are still many opportunities for people already in work to gain qualifications that will enhance their career prospects.

Most of the London universities offer a range of short and part-time courses which can be fitted in alongside a career. Some will lead to a degree or a post-graduate qualification, some provide professional development. Fees will still be payable, but at least students on short and part-time courses will know where the next meal is coming from if they are able to keep their jobs and study at the same time.

Situated as it is on the edge of the City itself, you would expect the university which takes the City's name to be closely in touch with the world of dealers and big banking on its doorstep. City University's Business School has its own Executive Training section which provides tailored programmes and intensive courses, particularly in the financial and banking field.

The school makes extensive use of practitioners, consultants and academics selected for their industry knowledge and expertise. Courses do not come cheap. Overview courses like the Introduction to Financial Markets, or a course in analysis techniques such as Economics for Dealers - offering three days' study - clock up at about pounds 800 plus VAT. But these are unusual, if not unique, offerings and employers can be expected to help out with the fees if the subject will be of value at work.

Executive Development at City University also provides a range of management skills training courses for people in junior, middle and senior-level management. Topics include introductory management, stress management, presentation and negotiating skills, team building, and advanced project management.

Prospective students looking for something a little less pressured, and somewhere as close to a relaxed country environment as is possible to find in Greater London, need look no further than Middlesex University. Middlesex includes business studies and law courses in its summer school, for which most programmes are based at Trent Park, a mansion only 30 minutes from central London by Tube.

Most of these courses carry university credits for those who want them, but they can be taken purely out of interest. Classes are small, with 15 students on average, and the teaching style is interactive. This summer's courses include book-keeping, business and company law, productivity and quality management, project management. and personal effectiveness.

At the University of East London, post-graduate programmes in business and management are generally offered on either a full- or part-time basis, to suit students' individual needs and financial circumstances.

For serving managers at middle or senior level, the Diploma in Management Studies and the MBA courses cover similar areas.

The MBA course, for which previous organisational experience is necessary, follows basic management modules with tailor-made pathways to suit a student's needs.

UEL also has a specialised range of MSc courses, which can be studied part-time. These include Educational Management, International Marketing Management, Public Services Management, and Logistics. Applicants with a degree or professional qualification are eligible for a 30-week part- time course leading to a Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance.

South of the Thames, South Bank University is finding a growing interest in part-time study among those who want to study for a recognised qualifications - no doubt a sign of the increasing financial pressures on students at all levels. From October, one-semester courses (lasting 15 weeks) will run between 6pm and 9pm, Monday to Thursday.

Students who complete a one-semester study unit can either receive a certificate showing their attendance on the course, or, if they take part in a formal assessment, can be awarded a certificate of achievement. Units can be counted towards a formal qualification and many count towards the continuing professional development requirements of professional bodies.

South Bank, like many universities, also offers degree-level studies on a part-time basis, mainly through evening classes, with some Saturday and day-time lectures. It takes four years to attain a BA in business studies or an LlB by this route.

And, for the student who has achieved all or even some of this, it is possible to move on to study at Masters' level at evening classes. South Bank offers Masters' courses in international business, international marketing, human resources, accountancy, finance and charity finance. These are one route to membership of professional organisations like the Chartered Institute of Management.

A little further out to the south-east, the University of Greenwich runs a continuing professional development centre at Kings Hill in West Malling, Kent. Flexible part-time courses include an MA in marketing, an MA in employment strategy and an MSc in computing and information systems. These have been designed to suit working people. They offer a combination of two- or three-day blocks which are scheduled to minimise time off work.

The University of Greenwich has also been testing out the Internet as a learning environment. One-day and half-day seminars aimed at the busy business executive have covered topics from writing World Wide Web pages to presentations and project management.