Environment Scanning

cityu, hkTo identify appropriate strategies for pursuing excellence and for positioning ourselves as a leading global university for a new professional education, City University has conducted internal environment scanning and a broad ranging SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to assess the impact of external and internal factors on the operating environment of global higher education, drawing comparisons at the same time with leading global institutions. The scanning and assessment have produced the following outcomes:



A. Strengths

The principal strength of City University lies in the forward-looking vision, dedication, and outstanding quality of its faculty and leadership. The University also has the following significant academic, scientific and geographical strengths to support its vision as a global destination for premier professional education and outstanding research in the new century:

  1. 1. Academic scholarship and international recognition

    cityu, hkCity University has many dedicated and talented faculty and staff who fulfill their responsibilities to a high ethical and professional standard. The faculty and staff have contributed greatly to our impressive rise in academic stature and impact over the past decade. The University is home to many pre-eminent scholars, including ten academicians of various prestigious national and international academies (one of whom is also a Fields Medalist and Wolf Prize Winner); twelve Cheung Kong Scholars; twelve Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE); six Fulbright Scholars and five Croucher Senior Research Fellows.

    The University is also home to two State Key Laboratories under the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Repulic of China. The State Key Laboratory of Millimeter Waves, is the first such laboratory in the engineering discipline in Hong Kong and, is emblematic of the technological strength of City University. The State Key Laboratory in Marine Pollution is another strong indication of the importance of the University’s outstanding scholarship in environmental research. In 2004, City University was awarded HK$45M by the University Grants Committee (UGC) to set up the Centre for Marine Environmental Research and Innovative Technology (MERIT) as an area of excellence. In 2009, this Centre was further awarded sustained funding of HK$23.6M. Currently, City University has been awarded 91 patents and there are 139 applications pending approval.

    In terms of international recognition, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities issued by Shanghai Jiao Tong University (2008), City University is among the top 50 universities in the Asia-Pacific Region. The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Asian University Rankings (2009) places the University 18th amongst Asian universities and the Times Higher Education Supplement and Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings (2009) places City University as 124th among the world’s top universities. Whilst rankings are not the only measure of excellence, they do underscore the distinct upward momentum of the University. They propel us forward to further excel in professional education to serve Hong Kong society, China, and the region.

  2. 2. Partnership with Mainland institutions and international collaboration

    cityu, hkCity University has a long history of collaborative relationships with Mainland universities, industry, the Chinese government, and Mainland society at large. Several strategic platforms have been developed to facilitate joint research, educational programmes, professional training, and knowledge transfer, including City University Research Institute (Shenzhen) Company Limited; University of Science and Technology of China – City University of Hong Kong Joint Advanced Research Centre in Suzhou Industrial Park; City University of Hong Kong and Shenzhen Guangming New Area Farmland Development Collaborative Project; and City University of Hong Kong Shanghai Liaison Office (soon to be opened). Over the years, we have developed over 400 academic links with some 290 prestigious universities spanning more than 40 different countries in the world. These partnerships and academic links are invaluable assets for City University as a leading university in the region, an intellectual gateway between China and the West, and as a catalyst for education, research and knowledge transfer partnerships around the globe.

  3. 3. Quality assurance and student learning

    The University places great emphasis on the quality assurance of its academic programmes and is committed to supporting students’ intellectual, personal and professional development through both formal and informal learning opportunities, supported by carefully planned student services. It has a well-established quality assurance mechanism, with responsibilities devolved to College and School Boards as primary owners of the quality assurance process. To enrich the undergraduate educational experience, City University has invested a significant amount of resources in developing internships in a wide range of organisations, cultural and language immersion schemes, international exchange programmes, and innovative service learning opportunities for the broadening of students’ intellectual horizons, personal development, and professional knowledge.

  4. 4. Location

    City University is an international university located at the heart of the city of Hong Kong, one of the world’s most vibrant knowledge-based economies. It is literally a city within a city, being highly cosmopolitan, energetic, fast-moving, forwardthinking, and outward-looking in the creation and transmission of knowledge. It has the most accessible and convenient campus in Hong Kong, and is well-connected by trains, subways and other forms of public transport. It provides an ideal venue and has excellent facilities for hosting global forums and international conferences. It offers a stimulating campus environment for academic exchange and cross-cultural dialogue between scholars from the East and the West, facilitated by Hong Kong’s proximity to China and central position in Asia and the world. It also has one of the best on-campus student housing programmes in terms of location, facilities and management.
B. Weaknesses

City University recognises the existence of a number of weaknesses and potential challenges, arising from a rapidly changing and globalising environment for higher education, which will need to be addressed in order to support the realisation of the vision of excellence embodied in this Strategic Plan:

  1. 1. Campus development

    cityu, hkCity University has outgrown its existing facilities, and consequently physical limitations now impose a real constraint on its activities and development. The expansion of the library and the creation of more open, quality spaces are urgent needs if we wish to excel as a world-class university. With the implementation of the new 3-3-4 academic structure, with the associated increase in the undergraduate population, the congestion and traffic flow on campus will be further aggravated. Insufficient student residence spaces will also hinder our efforts to increase our international
    student enrolment. The lack of space does not only limit our ability to develop, it also places us at a disadvantage compared to other universities in the global competition for faculty, students, and resources. In this respect, we need to develop a campus master plan as a blueprint for aligning our physical planning with our future development.

  2. 2. Programme innovation

    City University’s academic programmes have served us well for the past 25 years. They are not, however, all uniformly strong or equally relevant to the preparation of graduates for a distinguished career in some of the emerging and exciting fields of professional practice, or to support the flourishing knowledge-driven global economy in the new century. There is a need to review, revise and reinvigorate our existing academic programmes and to phase out those which are relatively weak or no longer viable. Equally important is the need to create strong and academically vigorous professional programmes, especially in promising new fields, that will appeal to bright and ambitious students with an impulse for creativity and entrepreneurship, locally, nationally and globally.

  3. 3. Funding sources

    As a public university, we have been relying primarily on the government block grant to fund all our activities. However it is evident that public funding will not suffice to realise our vision for in the next 5 to 10 years. In order to enhance our capacity to compete globally, nationally and locally, it is imperative that we generate more private funding from different sources to improve our facilities, and to support innovative projects in order to attract the best and most diverse range of students, as well as to hire the quantity and quality of international faculty that will be required.

  4. 4. Student quality

    The quality of our students is uneven and highly variable from programme to programme. There is a need to raise our admission standards and to enhance our input quality and diversity. In particular, the standard of spoken and written English of the students is a major cause for concern since a weak command of English can diminish the students' entire educational experience, as well as limit their future job prospects and professional career development.

  5. 5. Faculty growth

    cityu, hkAcademic faculty are the key to the pursuit of academic excellence. City University has not previously had a clearly-defined plan for faculty recruitment and retention. In order to compete globally and locally for the recruitment of outstanding faculty more successfully, it is critical for City University to define clear recruitment targets and timelines, and to improve promotion activities and outreach strategies as part of a longer-term, systematic recruitment plan for the University. The retention of good faculty and staff is also a problem, as tardy faculty and staffing growth will inevitably hinder our strategic development. City University therefore needs to build a strong body of faculty and other staff in order to create a first-class academic environment.
C. Threats
  1. 1. Organisation structure

    Some of our existing structures, processes and practices are no longer adequate to support a modern university to compete and excel in the fast-moving global market of higher education. There is also a proliferation of committees and cumbersome administrative rules and regulations, which often undermine accountability and efficiency. At the same time, there are gaps in the organisational structure of City University which need to be strengthened to provide the dynamic leadership necessary for realising our strategic goals. Upgrading our planning capacities, including academic and campus planning, as well as financial and human resources, is critical for achieving excellence as a global university for professional education.

  2. 2. Financial planning

    Our current budgeting and financial models have served City University well in fulfilling regulatory and gate-keeping functions to ensure our accountability
    as a public institution. However, if these are too conservative and restrictive, they have the negative potential to undermine efficiency and weaken competitiveness. To support our vision, there is an urgent need to adopt a financial planning model and a budgeting process which are more dynamic and facilitative to enable us to respond promptly to creative ideas and new opportunities in a fastchanging environment.

  3. 3. Human resources planning

    Our Human Resources Office supported by its dedicated staff has long provided a useful service to the University community. However, the University currently lacks an academically-oriented human resources policy which is sufficiently flexible to empower and support faculty and staff in the pursuit of excellence. City University has been using a set of personnel procedures which have been centralised and somewhat cumbersome. These cumbersome procedures are undermining our capability to compete globally for outstanding scholars who increasingly require prompt and speedy responses which need to be supported by streamlined and efficient procedures.

  4. 4. Academic planning

    cityu, hkThe development of new educational programmes and professional schools relevant to the needs of our fast-changing world is a sign of our vitality, and a guarantee of our international competitiveness as a dynamic academic institution. City University must take seriously the challenge of innovation in academic planning, which often requires a great deal of time and energy to establish appropriate management systems and oversight. The profile of UGC-funded academic programmes needs to be reviewed and refined on a regular basis. The role and provision of self-financed programmes need to be comprehensively reviewed and carefully monitored to ensure proper control
    and the appropriate alignment with our strategic development and the pursuit of academic excellence. Using English as a medium of instruction is important for the international competitiveness of our graduates. We need to ensure that both our students and faculty are able to demonstrate the highest possible standards of proficiency in English.

  5. 5. Campus planning

    City University has been efficient and pragmatic in its approach to designing functional buildings, and managing essential facilities to cope with the critical and urgent demands thrown up by rapid and often unanticipated growth. However, it remains a fact that heavy congestion, an inadequate supply of student accommodation, a shortage of space, and the lack of an inspiring and stimulating campus environment affects the student educational experience and handicaps City University in the competition for the best students and scholars at all levels. There is an urgent need to develop a long-term campus master plan to create a sustainable campus that inspires and supports excellence.

  6. 6. Adverse publicity

    City University has a history of being vulnerable to adverse publicity and this has brought with it a negative impact on the excellent work and dedication of faculty and students. If such adverse publicity is not corrected effectively, or prevented
    from occurring in the future, it will create a false public perception of the University in the local community, and become a burden which will limit progress, regardless of how much we advance in international standing. There is an urgent need to re-engineer and strengthen our image-building efforts, information technology policy, public engagement strategy, university promotion plan, and risk management. There is also a need for all members of the City University community to be good team players working together for the best interests of the University.
D. Opportunities
  1. 1. The new 3+3+4 academic structure

    Hong Kong will implement the 3+3+4 academic structure in 2012. The transition from the existing 3-year to a 4-year degree structure has brought with it a real opportunity to introduce improvements and innovations and broaden and strengthen our academic programmes and research, to enhance our learning environment and quality assurance processes, and to bring new blood and leadership into the University.

  2. 2. The growth of China

    This is a time of unprecedented growth for China, which is now the focus of world attention, not only because of its economic performance and large market, but increasingly because of its knowledge revolution, its talents, and its fast developing higher education sector. City University can make a significant contribution to China’s spectacular growth, and the nurturing of new talents, through further expanding our professional education programmes, increasing our exchange links and joint research with top universities in the Mainland, and strengthening our collaboration with the industrial sector, the Chinese government, and Chinese society at large can help achieve this endeavour.

  3. 3. Globalisation

    cityu, hkOne of the outcomes of globalisation is the emergence of a global free market in higher
    education, resulting in the blurring of cultural, intellectual, spatial, and temporal boundaries. This provides further incentives and opportunities for City University to develop closer cross-border, cross-national and cross-institutional collaborations
    to expand its academic programmes, professional schools, research, and technology transfer, to prepare its graduates to develop into well-informed citizens and leading professionals, ready to engage with the global community.

  4. 4. A new leadership

    cityu, hkCity University has a new leadership following the appointment of a new Council Chair and a new President in 2008. This new leadership has brought new aspirations, energies, and ideas to the fore. The expertise, talents and vision of the new leadership
    will guide the University community in making the best use of emerging opportunities to build on the impressive achievements of the past, and to advance and make City University's professional education one of the best in the region.