The University of Hong Kong’s Department of Extra Mural Studies (DEMS) was established in 1956/57, the first continuing education unit in a university in the region. DEMS played a significant role in the provision of lifelong learning opportunities for the wider community. In 1992, it was renamed as the School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE). The University has a recognised role in lifelong learning and, as the continuing education arm of the University, HKU SPACE fulfils this part of the University’s mission by providing learning opportunities for personal, professional and career advancement for people from all walks of life.
With over 1,000 full-time staff members and some 2,100 part-time teachers, HKU SPACE is the leading local provider in continuing education. Course enrolments since 1956 have well exceeded two million and annual course enrolment often has exceeded 100,000. In 2010/11, this was equivalent to some 22,000 full-time equivalent students. The School collaborates closely with the other faculties and departments of the University to offer timely and relevant courses that meet society’s needs to update education and skills for the knowledge economy.
Quality support for learners
A hallmark of the HKU SPACE programmes is that they are designed and managed by the full-time academic staff of the School and supported by the excellent corps of part-time teachers. The School’s Quality Assurance mechanisms have been reviewed by the University as well as by external agencies and have been described as ‘exemplary’. The School, in its Strategic Plan, has committed itself to being a quality provider in terms of its academic programmes as well as to providing quality support to students through good teaching and well-designed learning centre facilities. The information age has brought exciting new learning possibilities. The School has developed a web-based, on-line learning platform to provide students and teachers with an effective means of communicating with each other for teaching and learning purposes. The School is also actively extending its range of e-courses.
Communication and feedback from teachers and learners
HKU SPACE views effective communication with its community as one of its top priorities. Feedback from students and teachers is highly valued and plays an important role in the process of monitoring as well as improving the quality of the programmes and services offered by the School. There are various formal and informal means of communication for students and teachers to channel their feedback to the School and to assist in the quality assurance process. All cases are handled in strict confidence and will not affect students’ assessment results in any way.
Organisation of the School
The University manages the affairs of the School through a non-profit-making company limited by guarantee which has a Board of Directors that draws its members from the University itself and from the wider community. The School’s academic programmes are monitored by the University Senate through the Board for Continuing and Professional Education and Lifelong Learning. Internally, the School has a Collegiate organisation. The wide range of part-time courses (some 40 subject groups) is allocated among three colleges that report to the Director. Full-time courses come under the Community College, which has a Principal who reports to the Director. There are a number of other centres, including the Centre for International Degree Programmes, the Centre for Creative and Performing Arts, the Centre for Research and Lifelong Learning, the Centre for Cyber Learning, the Centre for Language Studies and the Centre for Logistics and Transport. The HKU SPACE Po Leung Kuk Community College (HPCC) is a joint venture with a leading charitable association, Po Leung Kuk, and has a purpose built campus in Causeway Bay, is now fully operational in a new campus that opened in Causeway Bay in 2008.
The Centre for International Degree Programmes (CIDP) established in 2003 provides further opportunities for full-time study for Associate Degree and Higher Diploma graduates to progress to degree level. CIDP works with eight overseas partner universities and has over 1,300 students. These students are based on the 6th floor of the United Centre in Admiralty.
Taking the School to the community
HKU SPACE has a long history of locating its teaching and learning facilities at convenient downtown centres so as to better serve the community. Its flagship location is in the Admiralty area where it has premises in the Admiralty Centre (2/F and 3/F) and United Centre (6/F).The School also uses its Community College campus at Kowloon Bay and the HPCC Campus at Causeway Bay for both full-time and part-time students.
Additionally, there is the Island East Centre in North Point as well as the Fortress Tower Learning Centre. The Kowloon West Campus is at Mei Foo. The University’s Main Campus facilities are also available for evening classes. The Island South Centre is in Pokfulam and provides facilities for Centennial College, a new member of the HKU Group offering full-time, self-financed degree programmes validated by Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ). HKU SPACE provides management services to the College.
HKU SPACE is privileged to collaborate withover 60 institutions drawn from Hong Kong, Mainland China and overseas (principally the UK, the USA and Australia). The School will continue to explore opportunities for further cooperation with reputable institutions, both local and overseas, in order to offer a greater variety of high quality and relevant programmes to students. In Mainland China, HKU SPACE offers programmes for professionals and senior executives in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou including Integrated Marketing Communications, Organisation and Human Resource Management, Corporate Finance and Investment Management, Integrated and Practicing Management, Media Management, Global Operations and Management, and Innovative Marketing and Adaptive Organisation.
The Associate Degree programmes have also been introduced to Mainland Chinese students. In 2005, the School opened a campus in Suzhou in collaboration with the University of Science and Technology of Suzhou and the Global Edu Tech Management Group (GEM). HKU SPACE Global College (Suzhou) offers Associate Degree programmes and Dazhuan Diploma programmes in Accounting, Business Administration, Business English, Hospitality Management, International Finance, International Trade, Logistic Management Marketing and Business Enterprise Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovative Management).
HKU SPACE will strive to maintain its leading role in continuing education in Hong Kong, Mainland China and the region. It acts as an extension arm of the University to deliver HKU’s mission and role in providing lifelong learning opportunities to the community.