2004 begins with a new role for CityU

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Dear Colleagues,

For CityU, 2004 augurs a good start on a journey to greater achievements and prominence, both locally and internationally. In the morning of Saturday 10 January, I met the UGC Working Group on Role Differentiation, headed by Sir Colin Lucas of OxfordUniversity. After a four-month review and deliberation process, the Group has given CityU a new role statement. I urge everyone to read it carefully, because it bears an overriding influence on our work and our future direction. Let me outline how I see things taking shape.

First, I believe the efforts of our staff, students and alumni have borne fruit. CityU now has a better and more focused mission statement than the previous version given to us some nine years ago when we first became a university. The statement, I believe, will enable us to fortify ourselves academically to become a university of significance, not only in Hong Kong, but also in the region. What we have now is a more-or-less level playing field and gaps in terms of expected level of achievements among the eight institutions have narrowed, and the distinct role that each institution should play is better defined.

Second, we should be prepared to look at the new set of role objectives as a contract between the UGC and CityU. Therefore, it is imperative that we live up to our newly defined role and expectations, lest we forget that future UGC funding will be tied to the performance outcomes based on this assumed role. As is evident in one of the items, which is common to all UGC-institutions, in the new role statement, we should establish evidence that we meet international standards of teaching and learning as well as any research work we select to do.

In the present round of review, the UGC stresses, and I personally concur, that the eight institutions should strive for "deep collaboration." I encourage all our colleagues to investigate and initiate such opportunities, on departmental and programme level, within the University and particularly among the UGC-funded institutions.

I am pleased that the UGC has committed itself to another, similar review at the end of the next triennium, that is, around 2008. Evidently, the UGC recognizes that the role and significance of higher education in Hong Kong is changing rapidly in relation to the rapid socio-economic development of Hong Kong, the Pearl River Delta, South China and elsewhere in the region. I believe the local higher education sector should no longer be treated as a "stand-alone" system, an expression of self-sufficiency, or of sights set within exiguous borders.

Therefore, I take particular pleasure to note that we are also encouraged to engage in "deep collaboration" with other institutions in the region. Indeed, in the context of a more symbiotic relationship with the Mainland, Hong Kong's universities should be a part of that effort, capitalizing on our quality faculty, state-of-the-art equipment and international exposure. In many ways, Hong Kong can take a more active role by enrolling more students, particularly postgraduate students, from the Mainland. With the encouragement of the Government and UGC, an increasing number of Hong Kong's youth can also benefit from an undergraduate experience on the Mainland. I believe such exchanges and co-operation will bring greater complementarities to both sides, nurturing talent to come for the development of South China, including Hong Kong.

So, the year in which we will celebrate our 20th anniversary begins with a new role statement for us. I believe it is high time for our staff and students to focus on our core activities and the raison d'etre of the staff's work: instilling in our students a strong spirit and cultivating their inquisitive minds. I also encourage all academic staff to pursue the discovery and/or synthesis of knowledge. Together, we will be able to build a lasting legacy that can transcend the changing times and the current budget environment.

Finally, I wish you all a prosperous and productive Year of the Monkey, which I am sure, will bring you luck and zest.


H K Chang
President and University Professor




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