Dean of Student Learning charts a new course

Grace Ho

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Appointed Dean of Student Learning in April this year, Professor Lilian Vrijmoed has begun mapping out the strategic direction and plans related to providing professional education for students and enhancing a teaching and learning culture in the University. CityU aims to groom students to become reflective learners and competitive professionals, and to broaden students’ horizons through an internationalized education, enabling them to remain competitive in an era of globalization. Professor Vrijmoed will focus on refining the University’s mission and role to provide high value-added educational programmes for whole person development, emphasizing defined learning outcomes as the real measure of student success.


In two rounds of the Teaching and Learning Quality Process Review, CityU was commended as “well on the way to institutionalizing and embedding a culture of quality of assurance and improvement on campus” and “committed to preparing students for the world-of-work through a student-centred and learning-centred education.” Talking about her future work, Professor Vrijmoed stated that she will build on existing strengths to better support learning and whole person development. “The functions and expertise of Student Development Services (SDS) and the Education Development Office will be synergized for a more reflective learning process that will help students internalize their experience and offer a more coordinated service to students of diversified backgrounds,” she said.


Grooming students to be reflective learners and competitive professionals

The University’s ideal graduates are qualified, competent professionals and proficient communicators who are equipped with subject knowledge and a range of skills.  They will have acquired the ability to think laterally, analyze problems critically, adapt to change and they are willing to continue to learn. In short, CityU graduates embody "breadth" and "depth"; in addition to expertise, they gain cultural awareness and international exposure through a quality university education. According to an Education and Manpower Bureau survey, CityU graduates are ranked at the top among local graduates in IT literacy, second in work attitude and third in language proficiency.


To enhance teaching and learning and teacher-student interaction through advanced IT, the University is actively preparing for campus-wide deployment of the ‘Blackboard Academic Suite’ as a unified e-platform. “We provide a seamless learning environment for students to develop generic life skills,” Professor Vrijmoed said. “CityU is in the process of developing a comprehensive ‘e- Portfolio’ for each student, to help them capture what they have experienced and document what they have learned in the classroom and beyond. Such a reflective learning process will better motivate the students to mature, and can also enhance their competitiveness and employability in the job market.”


Early this year, the University launched an “On-campus Service-learning Scheme” with an aim to equip students with vocational competence and enhance their long-term professional development via jobs on campus. Part-time employment opportunities will be offered during term time whereas full-time offerings will be provided in summer. The Scheme was very well received by staff and students. Since 1 March, over 400 students have been offered job opportunities by over 40 departments / offices. Altogether, the students have been in service for over 100,000 working hours.


CityU alumni also play an important part in support of the University’s student development activities. For example, they assist University staff in conducting mock job interviews and workshops, and serving as mentors to share their work and life experience with undergraduate students. Through ongoing, active participation, our alumni understand the University’s development and maintain close ties with their alma mater.


Strengthening internationalized education for students

Attracting more students from overseas and the mainland is a key component in bolstering CityU’s internationalized education. Graduates must have a vision broad enough to link them with the mainland, on one hand, and to reach out to the world, on the other. Professor Vrijmoed explained, “We will expose our students to the wider world of scholarship in the arts and sciences, and to different cultures and environment. We spare no effort in increasing opportunities for our students to gain more international exposure through exchange programmes and other activities, such as study tours and industrial training.”


CityU already has a sound track record in this regard. The University launched its Industrial Attachment Scheme in 2000, providing students with work placement opportunities in prestigious corporations in Hong Kong, the Pearl River Delta, Shanghai and Kunshan on the mainland, Singapore and Germany. More than 1,100 students have benefited from the scheme since it was in operation. 


In anticipation of an increasing number of non-local students on campus, a new International and Non-local Student Office has been set up within the SDS to provide one-stop service for these students after they have been admitted. “To help overseas and local students make the best of campus life and opportunities at CityU, we will encourage incoming students to actively participate in CityU campus activities to enhance their sense of belonging.  We shall organise more inter- student hostel cultural and social activities to provide opportunities for exchange students to mix with more local students. We are also exploring the possibility of expanding our existing English Language Mentoring scheme by recruiting foreign students whose mother tongue is English to serve as English mentors. In addition, we also plan to invite foreign students to participate in community service.  All in all, we shall endeavour  to offer overseas students more chances to learn about the society, culture and business operation in Hong Kong, mainland China and other Asian countries,” Professor Vrijmoed added.


Different units in the University are devoted to helping students actualize their potentials and grow to be  a 'whole person'.  "We care about our students and we actively foster a caring culture on campus. We strive to deliver an education that provides more than an academic qualification, but also the environment to nurture a quality individual,” Professor Vrijmoed said. 


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