Open letter clarifies chair professors" point of view

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An open letter signed by 56 chair professors at CityU appeared as advertisements against a proposal to split Hong Kong's universities into teaching-oriented and research-oriented institutions in Ming Pao and the South China Morning Post on 4 March. It has been reported that the universities with a longer history will be categorized as research-oriented universities, while the younger universities, including CityU, will be categorized as teaching-oriented.

The letter, which was signed by the professors in their personal capacity, said the reported streaming proposal would stifle competition, waste the resources already invested and unfairly label students from the teaching-oriented universities as second-rate. "Not only will they have to bear the burden of being classified as second-rate for the rest of their lives, their career prospects will also be seriously jeopardized," the letter said.

The letter pointed out that the young universities have, over the past 10 years, developed their research abilities and recruited top talent. In CityU's case, some of our research has assumed a leading position in Hong Kong and worldwide, particularly in the areas of applied research and development and its commercialization. If the young universities are designated as teaching-oriented, the billions of dollars invested in research will be wasted and talent recruited from around the world will have little incentive to stay in Hong Kong .

The letter said that although the chair professors supported the government utilizing its resources to allow each university to focus on strategic academic areas and to complement each other by "harnessing their strengths", they were strongly opposed to the streaming of universities without taking their achievements into account. They made the following recommendations:

  • Maintaining a healthy competition among universities and to nurture talent;
  • Allocating funding according to performance in academic research and teaching of individual disciplines in universities; and
  • Fostering cooperation among universities, so as to complement one another's areas of expertise.

A survey of the positioning of universities has been conducted by the chair professors and the results, including detailed analyses of the issues and relevant statistics, will be presented in a paper entitled "Division of teaching-oriented and research-oriented universities: A short-sighted and destructive proposal". The paper will be submitted to the government and to distinguished members of the community and the media.



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