The School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE) is the extension arm of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). As the largest provider of professional and continuing education in Hong Kong, the school has seen a dramatic increase in enrolment over the last few years. Ten years ago most of the offerings were short courses and enrolment was about one-third of what it is today. Expansion started picking up steam five to six years ago and especially since the economic downturn hit in 1997. The number of students increased in just one year from 69,000 in 1997-1998 to 83,000 in 1998-1999. 'Most of the increase has been in professional and post-graduate courses,' Professor Enoch Young, director of SPACE, said. According to Professor Young, there were three reasons for the school's dramatic increase in enrolment. First was a general shift in the SAR's economy - from a manufacturing to a service economy and now to a knowledge-based economy. This prompted working professionals to seek higher level courses in order to learn new skills. 'In a knowledge-based economy people need to continuously upgrade themselves,' Professor Young said. Second, was the economic downturn. In a more competitive environment, more people were recognising the need to return to the classroom in order to keep themselves employable. Last, was the extra time that many people now had on their hands owing to the slower pace at work. SPACE currently offers more than 1,000 courses covering a vast array of subject areas. More than 160 award-bearing and professional programmes are included. Professor Young estimated that one-third of students were enrolled in degree or post-graduate courses, one-third in diploma or professional courses and one-third in short courses or courses of a 'general' nature. Several new programmes have been launched this year. Included are a Master's degree in Acupuncture and Moxibustion and a Second Bachelor's in Chinese law. The first course 'is the first traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) of its kind to be offered in Hong Kong and is targeted at those whose first degree is in TCM or Western medicine. The second - which is targeted at those with a Bachelor's in a non-law discipline - is being offered in collaboration with Beijing's Tsinghua University, which will issue the degree. Most of SPACE's classes are offered on a part-time basis in the evening or on weekends. Some are by way of distance learning with face-to-face tutorial support. SPACE is actively developing award-bearing programmes with other faculties and schools of the HKU.