Chapter 22: The Providers of CPE

22.1 Five of the UGC institutions have specialist units which provide continuing and professional education. These units also do a great deal of work, often in association with overseas partners, leading to first degrees. In the present chapter we shall ignore this work, and concentrate on their other activities. The School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE) at The University of Hong Kong offers classes at a number of centres in Hong Kong, Kowloon, NT and Macau. It has some 58,000 students (headcount) on about 1,500 courses. 52% of the students have a post-secondary qualification. The School's stated aims include offering educational opportunity to the community, principally on a part-time, evening or weekend basis, giving access to career and training opportunities, and providing courses in China as well as in Hong Kong. The largest group of students is taking business studies, but computer science, law, English and other languages also attract substantial numbers. More than half of the courses at SPACE are work related. They include master's degrees of the University of Hong Kong and with overseas partners. SPACE has a full-time academic staff of 37, supported by 825 part-time tutors, and an administrative, clerical and auxiliary staff of 117. The University of Hong Kong carries the cost of core staff amounting to some HK$29m in 1994-95; remaining expenditure of about HK$150m is balanced by fee income.

22.2 The School of Continuing Studies (SCS) of The Chinese University of Hong Kong offers courses at various centres in Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the New Territories. It has about 35,000 students (headcount) on 1,800 courses. More than 6,000 students are studying by distance learning. Language, art, business studies and computer science are popular areas. SCS has the highest proportion of cultural and leisure courses of any of the CPE units. Like SPACE, SCS runs a number of master's and professional courses in collaboration with overseas institutions. It also runs tailor-made courses for PRC administrators and business executives. Annual turnover is about HK$42m.

22.3 The Centre for Professional and Continuing Education at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PACE) has 10,600 students on 315 courses. There is a small administrative staff, but most courses are organized and provided by academic departments. The primary mission of the Centre is to upgrade the skills of working adults. Annual turnover is about HK$20m. There is additionally a Centre for Professional and Business English (CPBE) with 5,600 students : 26% of its courses are company specific. The City University has a School of Continuing and Professional Education (SCOPE) with 11,800 students on 410 courses. SCOPE's aims include upgrading the qualification of working adults, and providing a range of learning experience for general interest, self development and retraining. Like the centre at PolyU, SCOPE draws on academic departments for the organization and teaching of most of its courses. Expenditure is about HK$31m. HKBU's School of Continuing Education (SCE) works towards the "democratization of education". It has a very wide range of courses covering professional and personal development, home crafts and interest, music, dance, languages, office skills, philosophy and many other topics. There are some 36,000 students (headcount) on 700 courses.

22.4 In summary, the five CPE units in the UGC institutions divide into two groups. Those at HKU, CUHK and HKBU stem from an "extra mural" tradition and offer substantial numbers of cultural, leisure and language courses as well as studies more directly related to employment. Those at PolyU and CityU are of more recent origin and most of their courses are concerned with working or professional enhancement. The scale of operation of these units is summarised in Table 22.1. We shall be discussing their funding in Chapter 24. CPE within the Hong Kong Institute of Education is strongly focussed on providing enhancement courses for those already engaged in teaching or training and on the development of language and language in education skills for those in the teaching profession. A substantial proportion of these courses are intended for teachers in government funded schools and government has contributed to the cost. Some courses are, however, offered through the Division of Extension Studies which charges fees to the students or employers. The total number (fte) of teachers involved in these CPE programmes in 1994/95 was 1,000.

Table 22.1 Size of CPE Units (1994-95)

University Unit No of Adm. Staff No. of FT teachers No. of PT teachers No. of Courses No. of Students Expenditure (HK$m)
CityU SCOPE 7 - 480 410 11,800 31
HKBU SCE 40 - 1,400 700 36,000 55
CUHK SCS 12 - 900 1,800 35,000 42
HKU SPACE 8 37 825 1,500 58,000 179

Source: CityU, HKBU, CUHK, PolyU and HKU

22.5 Most of the students of the Open Learning Institute are engaged on courses leading to a first degree or diploma, and we have chosen to include these in Chapters 10 and 11 rather than in the present chapter. However, all schools of the OLI, including its Centre for Continuing and Community Education, offer short courses on professional and general interests, and master's degrees are being introduced. The Caritas Adult and Higher Education Service provides part-time programmes of some 20 to 60 hours duration in accounting, art, commercial studies, languages, computing, practical skills and many other areas. It also offers tailor-made in-house training programmes to commercial organizations and government departments, and retraining courses funded by the Employees Retraining Board (ERB). The Vocational Training Council, in additional to its major work on initial training, also ran retraining programmes funded by the ERB for 422 persons in 1994-95. To upgrade the knowledge and skills of those in employment, the VTC provided out-centre training courses and conferences or seminars for some 2,700 persons. The VTC's Management Development Centre runs workshops and seminars to improve management skills, as well as producing learning material which can be used on an individual basis.

22.6 Also mainly in the management area are the executive development programmes (160 in all) offered by the Hong Kong Management Association (HKMA). We have commented on the HKMA's master's and bachelor's degree programmes (in association with Australian and UK universities) in paragraph 2.8. The Association also offers specialized diploma and certificate programmes, some of them jointly with local tertiary institutions or overseas partners. To encourage managers to engage in CPE, the HKMA awards Management Development Credit Units for training hours and achievements. One hundred units lead to a certificate.

22.7 Another statutory body involved in CPE is the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC), which offers both evening courses at its main premises in Kowloon Tong and in-company training. The HKPC uses both its own staff and local and overseas experts. The HKPC has about 14,000 (headcount) students on 600 courses, ranging from 20 hours to lengthy diploma or certificate courses. Major themes are management and technology. An interesting recent development in managerial education is the establishment by the British Council of a Centre of Continuous Professional Development which offers self-access and loan materials.

22.8 In addition to major providers of CPE such as the OLI, Caritas, VTC, HKMA and HKPC, there are many smaller charitable, professional and profit-making organizations undertaking through-life education and training. They range from those devoted to a particular industry or profession, such as those we discussed in paragraph 21.8, or the Hospital Authority's Institute of Advanced Nursing Studies, the Hong Kong Tourist Association Training Centre or the Taxation Institute of Hong Kong, to those offering more generally applicable skills as in the various computer training centres. Among the charities, the Hong Kong Christian Service (HKCS) vocational training centre at Kwun Tong includes retraining and continuing education programmes, some using cable TV. The HKCS has 1,200 full-time students, 19,000 (headcount) on short courses and evening courses and 1,600 on retraining courses. The areas covered include accounting and computing, commerce, design and photography and hotel and catering services.

22.9 As we noted in paragraph 21.10, the only substantial providers of in-house CPE are government and major companies (see also paragraph 22.11). Government supplied for its own employees 1,365,000 student days of training in 1994-95. 1,215,000 were provided by internal staff and 150,000 were obtained externally. There were 194,000 students. Not all of this training, of course, can be described as CPE. The largest component was 689,000 student days for the Royal Hong Kong Police Force, 99% of them in-house, but Customs and Excise, the Correctional Services, the Fire Services and the Urban Services Department all received more than 50,000 student days. Departments which used more than 5,000 student days of external training include Health, Electrical and Mechanical Services, Housing, Highways, Social Welfare, Urban Services and the Government Secretariat. Of the training which government provides for its own employees, 85% is job specific. The remaining15% is concerned with more general skills in areas such as languages, computers and management.

22.10 The report by a research team from CUHK which was commissioned by the UGC (see paragraph 23.1) found that half of the firms listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (i.e. the larger companies) provide in-house training for their employees. Two-thirds of those that do so use external institutions to run tailor-made courses in addition to those provided by their own staffs. The larger companies which provide in-house CPE usually have a formal organization and mode of recruitment for training. For example, the Hong Kong Bank Regional and Training Centre publishes a 260 page Training Guide for bank employees. Ngok and Lam in "Professional and Continuing Education in Hong Kong" found that trainers tend to be young (early thirties) and enthusiastic. More than half of them had themselves has been sent on a training course by their company and one in three had attended a teaching or training methodology course. 77% had a degree or higher diploma. Trainers usually had other responsibilities within the company, which was useful in assessing training needs but limited their availability for direct training work. Facilities for training (space and equipment) were generally good and group sizes were reasonable (10-19).

22.11 A 1995 survey of a particular sector (manufacturing industry) by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries has confirmed the view that in-house CPE is mainly confined to large firms; 85% of manufacturers with over 500 employees provided in-house training, but this fell to 20% for those employing fewer than 10. Average lengths of in-house courses were about 40 hours per employee year. Two-thirds of the firms in this sector sponsored attendance at external courses with 70% paying the fees in full.

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