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 one of the leading local providers in continuing education. Course enrolments since 1956 have exceeded 2.55 million, with annual course enrolment close to 80,790. In 2014/15, this was equivalent to some 21,427 fulltime 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. The global dimension is also important and the School has an extensive network of international universities with whom it collaborates.
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 in 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 webbased, online learning platform, SOUL 2.0, to provide students and teachers with an effective means of communicating with each other for teaching and learning purposes. SOUL mobile learning services are also provided to support students and teachers for ubiquitous learning. 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 offered at all academic levels (over 40 subject groups) is allocated among three Colleges and the Division of Chinese Medicine. The Community College is responsible for full-time sub-degree courses and overseas degree courses are offered by the International College (IC). The Institute for China Business (ICB) coordinates the School’s programmes offered in Mainland China. The HKU SPACE Po Leung Kuk Stanley Ho Community College (HPSHCC) is a joint venture with a leading charitable association, Po Leung Kuk.
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 HPSHCC Campus at Causeway Bay for both full-time and part-time students.
Additionally, there is the Island East Campus 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 Campus is in Pokfulam and provides facilities for Centennial College, an independent degree awarding college established by the University. Centennial College offers articulation opportunities to degree level study for Associate Degree and Higher Diploma graduates.
HKU SPACE collaborates with a wide range of academic institutions globally (in the UK, Australia, the USA, Mainland China and Hong Kong). 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, via ICB, HKU SPACE offers programmes for professionals and senior executives in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou through a diverse range of professional and senior-executive programmes with emphasis on different business and management disciplines.
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.