IT proves the next big thing for CU's continuing learners
Information Technology has rocketed into first place as the most popular subject at the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in recent years.
'Almost one-third of our current enrolment is in the IT area,' said Victor Lee Sze-kuen, director of the school. 'When asked about the 10 most popular courses we found that all of them were in the IT area - particularly in Internet applications and Web design.'
The school boasts particular strength in fields such as music and art, as well as courses related to the disciplinary forces and computer studies. A total of 96 award-bearing programmes and 830 general short courses are on offer this semester.
New programmes include an MSc in professional communication, a certificate programme in information technology for disciplinary forces, a diploma in penology, and a certificate programme in basic theories of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine.
IT may be 'flavour of the month', but Mr Lee said the time was still not ripe for the widespread application of Web-based learning in a place as compact as Hong Kong. 'Hong Kong is not that big,' he said. 'If you set up a centre in town, it is very easy for students to get there.'
Another problem was the SAR's notoriously cramped living conditions. 'Most people live in small flats. There's usually not enough room at home for people to study,' he said.
The School of Continuing Studies was established in 1965 as the Department of Extramural Studies. Award-bearing programmes at the certificate, diploma, Bachelor's and Master's levels were launched in 1979. The school has been developing joint programmes with overseas universities since the early 1980s.
There are two main types of programme: general short courses and award-bearing programmes at the postgraduate, undergraduate, diploma and certificate level.
Short courses usually last from three to four months. With no specific admission requirements, they are usually 'self-enrichment' courses. Award-bearing programmes tend to be more academic, providing professionals with the chance to upgrade their knowledge and expertise.
Enrolment in award-bearing programmes soared 250 per cent between 1994 and 1999, while enrolment in general courses, meanwhile, dropped 40 per cent.
Mr Lee said the labour market had become more competitive in recent years and this had resulted in a greater need for working professionals to learn new skills and earn qualifications.
SCS at a glance
Programmes: General short courses and award-bearing programmes at certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate levels
Learning mode: Mostly classroom setting; some distance learning
Medium of instruction: Bilingual - materials mostly in English, lectures mostly bilingual
Minimum entry requirements: Depends on the programme
Major learning centre: Oriental Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui East.
Hotline: 2209 0299