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Life at HKU SPACE Our Stories

HKU SPACE course enrolments reached 3 million, creating outstanding achievements in the education sectorEvent Recap

29 Apr 2021 (Thu)

Since HKU SPACE was established in 1957, it has been committed to opening up a vast range of lifelong learning opportunities for the community, writing pages of glorious records in the process of its development. After 63 years of persistent efforts, the School has not only created many new precedents in curriculum development in response to the needs of the public, but has also gone from an initial enrolment of 330 students to now a cumulative total of 3 million in 2020, marking an important milestone for the School.

Accumulated Course Enrolment in 2020

The composition of student enrolment covers a wide range, spreading knowledge to all communities

In the mid-1950s, the Seven-Year Primary School Expansion Programme had just begun in Hong Kong, and many workers had never received basic education. As a result, HKU SPACE (formerly the Department of Extra Mural Studies – DEMS) was established in 1957 and became one of the few educational institutions at the time to provide after-work education, hoping to bring knowledge to all walks of life and various sectors of the society to contribute to universal education.

The initial enrolment of the School was 330 students. Given that the current average number of students in a class in primary and secondary schools is over 30, that number is equal to a total of ten classes, demonstrating people’s strong desire in pursuing learning during that time. Less than a decade later, the cumulative number of students exceeded 100,000 - a significant increase! Then the number reached 500,000 at the beginning of the 1990s, 1.5 million at the beginning of the millennium and 2 million at the 50th anniversary of the School. Until the end of last year, the School enrolled its 3 millionth students which officially opened a new page in its history.

During that time, the composition of its student population has also changed significantly. At the beginning, most of the students were part-time workers who wished to study; then in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, they became employees who were pursuing professional qualification courses; and in 2000, they became young secondary school graduates. Until recent years, students would come from different countries and regions and take online courses. The School has successfully spread knowledge to all over the world, across time, space and national borders.

Professor William K. M. Lee, Director of HKU SPACE, said, “The School is very encouraged by this hard-earned and remarkable achievement, and is deeply grateful for the support and trust given by all sectors and communities of Hong Kong over the past decades. We promise to continue to fulfill our social responsibilities in the future by providing more high-quality and professional courses to meet the public's ardent demand for continuing education; and by nurturing new elites for different industries to meet the needs of social progress and development.”

Wong Po-yee admitted that she was a little bit surprised to find herself as the 3 millionth student of the School and had never imagined that she would get a special position like this, “I applied for the Korean course at the time because I like watching K-Dramas. I was hoping that after learning Korean I won’t need to read subtitles when binge-watching in the future. I chose HKU SPACE through friends’ recommendations, also I thought the learning ladder of the School was very clear.” She said she would continue to study in the future and apply for Korean language international tests to get a certification and affirmation; and if there is any opportunity, she would also consider learning other languages.

Cutting-edge curriculum development with the largest CEF programme network

As well as having a wide enrolment network, as the oldest continuing education institution in Hong Kong, the School has always been committed to promoting lifelong learning.

Since the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was established, the government incorporated the idea of lifelong learning into its policy address, helping transform Hong Kong into a learning society, and establishing the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) in 2002 to provide subsidies for those who wish to study. The CEF enhancement measures was officially implemented on 1 April 2019. The subsidy ceiling has increased to HK$20,000 per applicant, and the upper age limit for applicants has been relaxed to 70 years old, with no validity period. The measures have played a positive role in encouraging citizens to continue their education and improving their self-enhancement, and have also driven tertiary institutions, including the School, to launch more new courses that meet the needs of society. After the implementation of the measures, the School has added and approved nearly 1,000 CEF programmes (see table) which increased programme numbers from 998 to nearly 2,000. Market share has also jumped from 16% to 24%, and the number of students who completed their studies through the fund has risen from 130,000 to 140,000.

Professor William K. M. Lee said, “The figures above show the public's affirmation and support for the quality of the School's education. With the emergence of today’s social distancing ‘New Normal’, and in order to adapt to changes and grasp the future, the public's demand for continuous learning is increasing. To address these needs, we will continue to spur ourselves, strive to build a high-quality learning platform, provide people who wish to study with more programmes that meet the needs of the times, promote career development and meet personal interests, such as health management, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, etc., and move forward with all the citizens in Hong Kong!"

A list of highlighted new CEF Programmes after 1 April 2019

CEF Programmes

Chinese Medicine


Certificate in Tui-Na

Certificate in the Foundations of Acupuncture

Certificate for Module (Workshop on Chinese Medicine Cuisine)

Certificate in Chinese Medicine Dispensing

Professional Knowledge Improvement

Certificate in Public Relations and Corporate Communication

Certificate in Smart Building Technologies

Advanced Diploma in Engineering

Professional Diploma in Marketing for Pharmaceutical Industries

Personal Interest Development

Certificate in Positive Psychology

Advanced Certificate in Life Coaching

Foundation Certificate in Cosmetic Science
Certificate in Conservation and Preservation of Books and Documents

Advanced Technology

Diploma in eSports Science

Advanced Diploma in Big Data Analytics and Applications

Postgraduate Diploma in Cyber Risk Management

Postgraduate Diploma in IT Forensics