Heads of Universities Committee organises symposium on internationalisation

Zoey Tsang

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The Symposium on Internationalisation was held at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) on 31 October. Organised by the Standing Committee on Internationalisation of Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM) and supported by the University Grants Committee (UGC), the purpose of the symposium was to enhance awareness and seek support from university academic and administrative staff in promoting and sustaining internationalisation.

The Honourable Michael Suen Ming-yeung, Secretary for Education of the HKSAR Government, and Mr Michael V. Stone, Secretary-General of the UGC, were the guests of honour.

Professor Way Kuo, CityU President and HUCOM Convenor, joined with presidents from five other higher education institutions in Hong Kong. They were Professor Ng Ching-fai, President and Vice-Chancellor of Hong Kong Baptist University, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, President of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, Professor Timothy W. Tong, President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Professor Tony Chan Fan-cheong, President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Professor Richard Wong Yue-chim, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong.

“The government has outlined its plan to develop Hong Kong as the regional education hub in the 2009 Policy Address. Hong Kong has excellent geographic location, good blend of Eastern and Western cultures and world class universities. To stand out from its neighbours, it requires shared vision and concerted efforts of the government, institutions, staff and students,” Mr Michael Suen said.

Mr Suen also gave an account of the internationalisation of Hong Kong education. The number of non-local students was around 9,200 in the 2008-09 academic year, representing a 15% increase from the 2005-06 academic year. He expected a further increase in the numbers after the launch of the four-year curriculum in Hong Kong universities.

Mr Suen stressed that quality assurance in Hong Kong institutions and collaboration between local and overseas institutions are especially important to internationalisation in higher education.

Professor Kuo also emphasised the importance of quality in higher education to sustain Hong Kong’s competitiveness as an education hub in the international arena.

Quoting what the late US President John F. Kennedy said five decades ago about the problems people facing at that time, Professor Kuo said, “There are uncharted areas of science and space. There are unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice. There are unsolved problems of peace and war.”

“These are international challenges and we are handling them altogether. I am sure that we will learn something from each other about the quality and practice of internationalisation in this symposium,” Professor Kuo added.

Professor Kuo and Mr Stone of UGC both spoke about the latest achievements of world rankings of local institutions. Mr Stone said it was a very good result with five Hong Kong universities among the top 200 in the world. He added that institutions are encouraged to identify their niches and compete internationally on that basis.

Two keynote speeches followed in the one-day symposium. Professor Fazal Rizvi from the Department of Educational Policy Studies at University of Illinois spoke on global trends and perspectives in international student movement. In recent years, there has been spectacular growth in international student mobility. Professor Rizvi found that the aspirations and expectations of international students are informed by a new cosmopolitan consciousness and the opportunities that global networks now offer.

Dr David Horner, Director Emeritus of the Office of International Students and Scholars at Michigan State University, talked about the successful profiles of internationalisation at colleges and universities. The concept of internationalisation has gained global prominence in higher education. Institutional goals for promoting internationalisation are defined differently by institutions based in part upon their mission, cultural environment, national priorities and geographic location.


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