Chapter Three

Challenges, Opportunities and Gaps in the Current Planning Environment

CityU fully recognises it must operate within a set of challenges common to all universities arising from the globalisation of higher education and significant technological changes. It is also experiencing changes in local demographics. We must forge our own unique path, taking into full account the challenges in our current planning environment. We should capitalise on our strengths and opportunities, define our priorities and formulate our strategies in order to maintain our upward trajectory.

3.1 Challenges to Higher Education

Greater demand for public accountability

We must increasingly take proactive steps to communicate and demonstrate our strong commitment to high academic standards and good governance to strengthen public confidence in our value, purpose and the benefits, tangible and intangible, we produce through society's investment in us.

Expanded role of higher education

We are faced with increasing demand to actively engage in creating and applying knowledge to support industry and drive economic development; to improve people's lives through innovation and entrepreneurship; as well as to integrate these processes into the education of our students to expand their career pathways.

Heightened expectations by students, parents and employers

We must ensure vigorous review and continuous renewal of our academic programmes to maintain high standards and relevance, in light of keen competition and rapid changes that are occurring in the environments in which our graduates will be working and the requirements in today's corporate, NGO and government settings.

Increased globalisation of research and education

The problems we are facing under globalisation are increasing in complexity, requiring creative solutions. We need to enhance and expand our connections and collaborations with talents around the world to strengthen our interdisciplinary capability and to attract the best faculty, researchers, and students to join CityU to address critical global issues.

Changing patterns in public funding

Public funding for higher education is changing significantly and its allocation is becoming more competitive; we must continue to raise our competitiveness, tap new funding sources, and strengthen our financial planning and management to ensure that we can support our strategic initiatives to yield the anticipated return on investments.

3.2 Opportunities

CityU's impressive accomplishments and distinguished achievements in the past years have provided us with a strong foundation from which to scale new heights. We should support and build on existing strengths, extend our impact on Hong Kong society and beyond, envision new capabilities, and nurture emerging strengths in accord with our role as a leading university for professional education and problem-based research in the region.

It is our firm belief that CityU has the ingredients to become a magnet for global talents and innovation. We are neither constrained by tradition, nor rigidly defined with a fixed identity. This makes us receptive to new people and ideas and to diversity. We offer an exciting international platform for individuals from different backgrounds to work together and thrive. Such openness and fluidity provide CityU with the freedom and unique opportunity to chart its own course and shape its future, based on its vision and academic aspirations.

At the same time, it is recognised that CityU is at an excellent position - geographically, intellectually, and culturally - to capitalise on its cross-East-West position and strong commitment to innovation and internationalisation, to enhance its international network and collaborations with talents in the world to promote cross-fertilisation of ideas and create new knowledge to contribute to solving critical global issues.

Despite its relative youth, CityU has been receiving strong local support and increasing international recognition for its pursuit of academic excellence. It has built premium global academic partnerships and strategic Mainland alliances to internationalise education and promote research and knowledge transfer. Its new model of professional education is distinguished by its close integration of teaching and research in the pioneering DEC and resulting contributions to innovation in the 21st century. The path-breaking PBPR Scheme has further helped build a strong culture of accountability on campus to support the pursuit of excellence. We have greatly enhanced the diversity of our faculty to support internationalisation of learning. The physical transformation of the campus in accord with the Campus Master Plan has been equally impressive. The ambitious goals set in the Strategic Plan 2010-2015 have been instrumental in putting CityU on such a distinctive path of development in the past five years.

3.3 Gaps

Notwithstanding this significant progress, CityU's development is still seriously impeded by the shortage of campus space, student housing and research postgraduate (RPg) student population.

The UGC has formally acknowledged that CityU has a shortage of teaching and research space of about 20,000 square metres. We will be actively liaising with the government to develop viable plans to rectify our space shortage problem and to ease congestion.

Another gap affecting our development is the shortage of student housing. The new Ma On Shan hostel which is expected to be completed in 2019 will not meet all our demands. Housing limitations have seriously hindered the development of our internationalisation and academic exchange programmes, adversely affecting our competitiveness as a global destination for professional education.

CityU's RPg student quota as approved by the UGC has been a serious concern to the University. The small quota is roughly half the number of students at peer institutions that provide professional education for comparable numbers of staff and undergraduates as at CityU. CityU must take action to address this shortfall if it is to realise its ambition to be a significant contributor to research and knowledge transfer on the national and international stages of higher education.

As a mature university, CityU shall enhance its management model to improve accountability and efficiency, through appropriate delegation and vigilant streamlining of structures and processes.

3.4 Moving Forward

CityU is firmly committed to the pursuit of excellence in research and professional education. The general consensus of the campus community is to extend our path forward in the succeeding five years of the Strategic Plan 2015-2020 by broadening the impact of our DEC to add value to our professional education; deepening internationalisation and global partnerships to extend career paths and opportunities; expanding capacity and infrastructural support to promote interdisciplinarity, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship; and enhancing good governance and the CityU brand to support the pursuit of excellence in all our endeavours.