Professor Kuo addresses university presidents' forum on scientific cooperation
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Professor Way Kuo, President of City University of Hong Kong (CityU), attended the Third Beijing-Hong Kong University Presidents’ Forum on 13 June together with more than 120 other presidents and top-level administrators from more than 50 Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan universities. They discussed how to strengthen cooperation in science and technology so as to initiate a regional mechanism for further globalisation in higher education.
Speaking for the forum’s organiser, Beijing Municipal Education Commission, Professor Guo Guangsheng, Deputy Commissioner, recalled the history of the forum in his opening speech. He said the first forum was held in Beijing in 2006 against a background of globalised higher education, and the second in Hong Kong the following year. The third forum, again held in Beijing, included participants from three Macau and Taiwan universities respectively, highlighting the desire of universities to pool resources and enhance cooperation in original research and cross-disciplinary projects.
Present at the opening ceremony was Ms Ding Yuqiu, Deputy Head of the Office for Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan Affairs under the Ministry of Education, who extended her welcome to the participating university presidents and other guests.
Professor Kuo of CityU addressed the forum in his capacity as the new Convenor of the Heads of Universities Committee. Given its vibrant economy, salary structure and high living standards, Hong Kong has managed to attract top-calibre talent from around the world, he said. As shown by the QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) Asian university rankings released in mid-May, many universities in Hong Kong rank among the top 100 in Asia, highlighting the territory’s achievements in higher education, Professor Kuo added. Beijing, he said, not only has some of the top-ranking universities with a whole range of elite talents but also many highly prominent specialised institutions. Cooperation among universities in the two cities would serve as a benchmark for the modernisation and globalisation of China’s higher education sector, he concluded.
Ten university presidents from the four cities in attendance made keynote speeches. Based upon their own situation and respective features, they outlined how to strengthen ties among the universities in science and technology and how to better serve the regional economy. Some speakers suggested transforming undergraduate education, while others stressed the need to learn more about one another’s strengths. Speakers from Hong Kong and Macau, in particular, noted that the parochial “special administrative zone” mindset peculiar to the two places must be discarded. Some put forward the idea of setting up an Institute of Advanced Studies, modelled after the world’s top research institutes. The aim would be to build it into an academic pinnacle and hub so as to attract more first-rate talent and help Hong Kong become a more knowledge-based society.
In his speech, Professor Kuo described the education sectors of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as similar to the Warring States period (770 - 221 BC) in Chinese history, each trying to transform itself from the old system into a new one and yet sharing a common Chinese culture.
To realise globalisation, Professor Kuo emphasised, one must have the requisite “heartware”, or proper mindset, in addition to possessing advanced hardware, such as laboratories and equipment, and software such as teaching materials and academic exchanges.
Regarding cooperation among universities, Professor Kuo stressed the value of actual results derived from the synergy of strengths of all participating parties. CityU would strive to become one of Asia’s top universities, made up of a range of professional schools, focusing on producing engineers, lawyers, accountants and other professionals needed by the community, he said.
"Over the past two decades China has recorded remarkable economic growth and the next five or ten years will see the country become the centre of Asia," Professor Kuo said. “Therefore, it is essential that universities in mainland China and Hong Kong, given their role in nurturing new generations of creative talent, cooperate across the region,” he said. Professor Kuo also expressed his hope that the universities of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan would work together to create an internationally recognisable “Chinese university” brand-name.
On the morning of 14 June, Professor Kuo visited the Sixth Beijing International Education Expo held at the China International Exhibition Centre, where he met and chatted with CityU staff and students at work promoting the campus. Three of the CityU students were holidaying Beijing natives who served as volunteers, introducing CityU to Expo visitors.