Guiding Principles

Basic Principle of Academic Governance

Whilst the University remains committed to engaging with the society, since joining CityU in 2008, President Way Kuo has consistently argued for the separation of politics and education to ensure that CityU’s academic mission can be fully achieved to become a leading global university.    

External parties should not interfere with or disrupt the academic governance of a university, and asserting political neutrality ensures we maintain academic freedom and campus autonomy. Students, faculty, staff and alumni should not use CityU for the promotion of personal political viewpoints or individual agendas outside our core missions of teaching, research and knowledge transfer. To consolidate our global excellence in research and professional education, we will sustain a teaching and research environment in which the principles of neutrality and autonomy are strictly observed. We support, on a law-abiding basis, rational discussion and we accommodate a range of views in the spirit of mutual respect and collegiality. Academic freedom and campus autonomy stand among our core values and must be respected.  

The separation of politics and education is fundamental to academic freedom and campus autonomy.  

(Senate approved the above principle as an official statement of the University at its 123rd Meeting held on 15 March 2022)

Support from governance bodies

Support from governance bodies

The President and his Cabinet maintain a firm and mutual understanding with the governing bodies of the University. The Chairman of the Council has communicated closely with the President and has been fully informed about related events during the social movement and the pandemic, showing support for the implemented measures, which are designed with our basic principles in mind. This support includes the decision to meet with individual students rather than with groups publicly during periods of the social movement in order to develop more genuine communications, and to avoid the danger of meetings being hijacked and turned into political fanfares, often accompanied by verbal or sometimes even physical violence. Furthermore, public meetings of this kind are often dominated by people from outside the University with political agenda and ulterior motives unrelated to teaching and learning. The Executive Committee of the Council (ExCo) has wholeheartedly endorsed and reiterated that the University should maintain political neutrality. ExCo members agree that the University should uphold the principles of freedom of speech and mutual respect and promote the expression of opinions in a peaceful, rational, and non-violent manner. The Chairman highly commends the President and his team for their dedication and hard work during this difficult period.

In addition, the University Court and ExCo fully support the University’s security and other measures for ensuring safety for everyone on campus and at the student residences.

ERU responds to social unrest and pandemic

ERU responds to social unrest and pandemic

From the social unrest starting in June 2019 to the mounting difficulties presented by Covid-19 since January 2020, as a city and community, we have been living in challenging times.

Led by the President, the senior management team has taken many difficult and yet timely decisions, preparing ahead of time to serve CityU’s best interests. More specifically, Vice-President (Student Affairs) and Vice-President (Administration) were tasked with setting up the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) in August 2019. The ERU’s role is to coordinate closely with departments and units in response to the crises and provide prompt support where and when needed. The ERU meets at least once a day to discuss emergency matters. Despite illness at the end of last year and his busy schedule, the President joins ERU meetings as often as possible.

As of 5 June 2020, the ERU has issued 90 University Announcements on a range of issues and topics relevant to the University community, including support for staff and students, campus security, and special work arrangements during the social unrest and the pandemic, among others.

In addition, the ERU compiled a special report “Concerns and Responses” in October 2019 detailing a comprehensive set of responses and statements to more than 1,000 questions received at numerous meetings and those received in writing from individual students and representative bodies.

Communications with faculty and staff

Communications with faculty and staff

A sustained commitment to openness and accountability is critical to CityU’s success as a leading global university. The President, who treasures opportunities to listen to views from across campus, regularly meets with staff and faculty to discuss matters of mutual concern. From 2019 to 2021, the President met over 1,800 faculty and staff in 60 meetings. The President, along with other members of senior management, met faculty and staff members in all Colleges and Schools, and majority of the administrative units. During the meetings, the President shared the latest developments of the University with the staff and listened to their views and suggestions on University matters that concern them.

In addition to face-to-face exchanges with staff, the President has maintained communication with them through a monthly newsletter since 2011. As of November 2021, 95 issues of the newsletter From the President’s Desk were released. Such newsletters help disseminate the President’s views and serve as a useful platform to keep colleagues posted about important matters. From time to time, when necessary, the President also writes to colleagues and students through emails and other means. In 2020, the President wrote to colleagues and students on 4 February when the anti-virus special arrangements were adopted. On 17 April, he kept colleagues posted about the financial implications of the social unrest and the pandemic for University operations.

Communications with students

Communications with students

Various effective methods of communication have been used to listen to and follow up on students’ concerns. Since August 2019, the President has regularly met with various students, including the leadership of the Students’ Union, on eight occasions to exchange views on University policy. However, upon request from the Students’ Union, these meetings were not publicised. Visits to various parts of campus and the Student Residence were held to gain first-hand information and to greet staff and students. When it was reported that CityU students had been injured or arrested during the social unrest, the President, with their consent, contacted them or their family members in person to offer appropriate support. Since June 2019, the President has called the Chief Executive’s office at least 4 times to express the concerns of the University community — a fact which has been shared with leaders and representatives of the Students’ Union.

The University respects the autonomy of student groups and encourages rational discussion between people holding different opinions. The use of abusive language or political propaganda will never benefit but only serve to divide our community, making it more difficult for students to learn and grow.

Communications with alumni

Communications with alumni

Our basic principles on political neutrality, freedom of speech and mutual respect, the University’s response to the various challenges, and the substantial work undertaken by ERU have been communicated to alumni through various channels during the social unrest and the epidemic outbreak. In particular, e-communications including University statements, President’s e-newsletter, and alumni chat groups were arranged. Personal communications with individual alumni and alumni groups have been maintained. The management has communicated with alumni representatives, including members of the Eminence Society and the CityU Convocation, about the University’s basic principles and listened to their feedback and different views.

Moving forward

Moving forward

Graduating students' employability

With the global economy and the job market disrupted in an unprecedented and daunting manner, planning career paths and securing employment in this volatile socio-economic climate have become even more challenging for fresh graduates. The University has set up a timely special task force, led by Vice-President (Student Affairs) with additional funds from the University and donations from the President and Vice-Presidents, to coordinate institutional efforts to enhance employment opportunities for graduating students. Significant additional resources have been set aside to support our students in various areas including professional career coaching for all graduating students, strengthening connections with potential employers and the dissemination of information on the latest job openings, as well as a Career Launch Scheme in collaboration with employers and alumni in various industries. Meanwhile, the Career and Leadership Centre in Student Development Services is working closely with academic units, the Career Services of the College of Business and the Co-operative Education Centre of the College of Engineering to launch a series of workshops, recruitment talks and other special initiatives for enhancing employment prospects.

Further integration of teaching and research

CityU is dedicated to excellence in professional education and translational research in order to facilitate positive change for a better society and a better future. The University will continue to strengthen the teaching–research nexus by implementing a more challenging curriculum, one that incorporates problem-based learning and research elements. The aim is to equip students with the tools to find creative solutions to real-world problems. Teaching and research are inexorably bound together and cutting-edge research inspires students to learn. A holistic learning experience that integrates research elements better prepares students to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future. Students are provided with a learning experience that involves tackling problems from a research perspective and offers rich opportunities to participate in and conduct innovative research in collaborative faculty-led projects.

Reinforcing academic standards

The existing classification system for undergraduate degrees is going to be revamped. The aim is to combat the increasingly common problem of degree award inflation under the current system and better reflect the capability of highfliers. We will drop the first-, second- and third-class honours system and instead, recognise the top 15% of graduates (based on CGPA ranking) under the following arrangement: 

Classification of Awards:
•    summa cum laude (Highest Distinction) - top 2%
•    magna cum laude (High Distinction) - next 5%
•    cum laude (Distinction) - next 8%

This new system, which was approved by Senate on 2 June 2020, will enhance the reference value of our award classifications. The new system will apply to all students on our undergraduate degree programmes starting with the 2020/21 cohort. At the same time, the minimum CGPA for a degree will be set at 2.0, in line with mainstream international standards.

Reference has been made to similar schemes implemented in many US universities, and removing the first-, second-, and third-class classifications eliminates any connotation of bias or discrimination that was presented in the old approach. 

This newly approved system is a significant step forward for higher education in Hong Kong and Asia.


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