President speaks on CityU-PolyU collaboration

Peter Ho


What’s going on between CityU and PolyU? News reports yesterday almost invariably pointed to one final destination, rather than the process. In order to find out more about the ties developing between the two institutions, and to let staff and students understand more of the background, CityU NewsCentre talked with Professor H K Chang this morning. Below is an excerpt from the interview:


Are we talking about deep collaboration or a “merger” between CityU and PolyU? What are the benefits of collaboration?


Every journey begins with the first step. I would say both institutions have just begun to take the first steps towards greater collaboration. No final destination can be precluded at this stage, but the process will be gradual and managed from both sides. When I say “deep collaboration”, this is in line with recent policy initiatives proposed by the University Grants Committee and is recorded in our new role statement. Since January, I have been telling staff we need to develop links with our sister institutions in Hong Kong, on the mainland, and elsewhere in the world.


I noted in the February Linkage that I see great opportunities for cooperation between CityU and PolyU and BaptistUniversity. CityU and PolyU have a lot of in common, or complementariness, in terms of our history, our physical location, our current academic strengths and applied focus. It is natural that both sides now sit down and talk about further ties.


Is there a timeframe for such increased ties? Why talk now, all of a sudden? What has been done so far? What are the short-term and long-term goals?


The recent talks result from our short-term and long-term needs. In the short-term, we have to find out if there are new or synergistic areas that could provide better educational quality and value to the community we serve—new programmes or joint programmes, for example. These initiatives, we hope, would be eligible for some support from the University Grants Committee, which has set up a special fund for this purpose and has a deadline in June. A high-level group, chaired by the deputy presidents of the two universities and comprising senior academic and administrative staff, has been set up for this purpose. So far, we have identified two academic areas and two non-academic areas as pilot projects for exploring and developing collaboration. Four sub-groups have been impanelled to look into these areas and a report from each group is expected within the next two months, before we decide if we can nominate any project or initiative for funding application to the UGC.


The aim of academic collaboration is to pool our respective strengths and experience so as to deliver programmes that will provide extraordinary value to our students and make unique contributions to the community. Particularly we were thinking about joint taught postgraduate degrees. In the non-academic areas, we are looking for greater efficiency and productivity, providing better value for money and accountability for the public support we receive. We have, in the first instance, identified campus facilities management, and IT student support and administration. A lot of work has to be done in these areas before we know what’s feasible or not, but the first steps have been taken. I believe this is something the community will be happy to see.


Will staff and students have a say in the collaboration process? Or in the possible merger? How can their opinion be heard and considered?


I think the process has started, and I will not exclude any eventuality or outcome. But wherever we are going, I think the Council will set the general strategic direction and staff and student input will be sought and considered. Any major institutional decision will be taken in consultation with members of the University community. But uptill now, no discussion has ever been held on the “merger.” It is simply too early in the process to let ourselves be locked into any specific mode of thinking.


What can CityU staff do in this collaboration process?


The UGC has invited all funded institutions to offer ideas and proposals for deep collaboration and a special fund has been set up for this purpose. We have recently invited departments to come up with ideas. I think our staff, academic and non-academic alike, should keep their eyes open for potential collaborative projects in their own areas that can clearly demonstrate value. More proposals are welcome and they can be raised through the departments and faculties.


What should the staff and student make out of the recent press reports?


There have been a flurry of press inquiries in the last two days. I think it will be useful for the staff and students to read carefully the press statement which I issued and which was broadcast over the EBS. It gives a clear account of where we stand on this issue.




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