Opening Remarks by Council Chairman at the 25th Anniversary Banquet

The Hon Leung Chun-ying

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Chief Secretary, Pro-Chancellor, President, Distinguished Guests, Colleagues, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening and welcome to a very special evening that commemorates 25 years of achievements.

Twenty-five years is a relatively young age for a university but CityU has come a long way. We are now widely regarded as one of the best 150 universities in the world.

25 years is a good milestone at which we can reflect on what CityU means to us as a University and as part of our Society. It is also time for us to look ahead and formulate our strategies for the future - the future of our next generation of leaders, who in turn will shape the future of Hong Kong.

CityU is one of the largest universities in Hong Kong. It is now home to some 26,000 students. As is the case with other universities in Hong Kong, our students come from the full spectrum of the community - more than half live in public housing estates and the great majority are the first generation in their families to have the benefit of university education. Many of their families earn incomes below the Hong Kong median of $18,500 a month. Many parents have taken out loans to send their sons and daughters to study with us. So our students carry not only the hopes of Hong Kong, but also the hopes of their families. Last month, thousands of parents were on the campus to attend the graduation ceremonies. We were blessed with glorious weather. There were lots of flowers and soft toys. Many photographs were taken for the family albums. Each and every photograph is a testimony to the upward social mobility provided through our investment in higher education.

University education has multiple purposes and meanings. In Hong Kong, affordable university education through open and fair competition promotes upward social mobility. But this upward mobility is only possible if our graduates are competitive in the job market, not only locally, but also across political boundaries in this increasingly globalised world, and not only on the first rung of the career ladder, but all the way through their careers.

A couple of months ago, when I spoke at our student residence, I raised this question: “Half an hour away by car is the Mainland of China, where students graduating on the same courses as your own accept salaries one third of those you will achieve on graduation. How do you justify your 3-fold premium?” I was given very convincing answers. Going forward, all of us at CityU, from the Council, through Management and faculty, to the students themselves have to ensure that we keep the lead, maintain our niche and hence the premium our students command, or face the dire consequences.

Education is also about engendering in our students the right values and attitudes. As and when our graduates begin to hold sway in society, as and when their monthly salary hits the $45,000 mark and become the top 5% of our work force, they should know that the income distribution curve of Hong Kong is highly skewed. They should have the heart and mind to deal with it in ways that our generation have not. They should also know that on the environmental front, the behaviour of their parents’ generation, and therefore the life-style in which they have been brought up, is not sustainable. On both the social and environmental fronts, we at CityU teach our students also by example. We are socially responsible to both the under-privileged and the environment. We have a minimum wage policy for cleaners and guards although they are indirectly employed by us. We have started a program to save water and energy and will do more. Before long, we shall consolidate our efforts into a University Social Responsibility Programme and make it our common ethos.

CityU understands that university education for the new generation is not more of the same repeated all over again. Last week, the Council passed the new Strategic Plan which anticipates and responds to changes. In this Plan, we are determined to position CityU as a leading global university, renowned for its excellence in professional education and outstanding scholarship in problem-focused research.

We are committing all our departments, schools and colleges to undertake a vigorous academic planning exercise to identify niche areas and new initiatives for innovative programmes. And we are doing it under two guiding principles: “value-for-money” and “fit-for-purpose”, ensuring that tax-payers money and donations are spent in the most effective ways. Some major steps already have been taken. In a few minutes, the President Professor Way Kuo will cite a couple of examples.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our commitments to quality education and to the future of Hong Kong that has brought us together tonight. The next 25 years will show whether the hopes of our students, their parents and Hong Kong at large will be realised. Providing university education is not just another job. We owe it to our students, and the students to themselves, to make sure that we achieve our goal. Hong Kong depends on it.

Tonight, with colleagues and good friends, CityU celebrates its first 25 years of success. I thank the Chief Secretary for the Administration for joining us. I thank you for your efforts. Above all I thank all my predecessors, and the tens of thousands of colleagues, present and past, who have contributed to the University’s impressive development. Please continue to support the University. Our young people need it and deserve it.


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