CityU prepares for double cohort

Christina Wu

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A number of strategic measures have been prepared at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) for the double cohort of first-year students beginning their undergraduate studies this semester.

Counseling services, new software designed to help these new students navigate their way through the numerous tasks they need to accomplish during the start of their university careers, and key changes to the university calendar are being adopted to help to ensure a smooth start.

“All our departments, colleges and schools are well prepared to take on the challenges arising from the implementation of the new 4-year undergraduate curriculum which will be launched this September,” said Professor Paul Lam Kwan-sing, Vice President (Student Affairs).

A key initiative will see information counters set up in Academic 1 and run by senior students from the end of August until the beginning of September.

“Some of the students might feel a bit disoriented when they first start university so we will be on hand to share our experience and give out some tips,” said one of the senior students helping out at the counters, Ruthie Lee Wing-yan, a Year 2 student in the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics.

The new students would have all manner of questions concerning the location of classrooms, procedures for subject registration, and where to collect student identity cards, among others, Ruthie said.

In addition, each new student will be assigned a teacher in his or her department or college under a new programme called “Academic Advising”. The teachers will advise the new students on matters such as subject registration, learning skills, and professional development. The plan is for the teachers and students to meet at least once a semester during the first two years of the students’ undergraduate studies. The University has also arranged for senior students to act as mentors for the new students to help them assimilate into university life.

Another preparatory measure sees CityU rolling out a new web-based academic advising system called “DegreeWorks” that helps students to plan their studies by matching their academic record against their degree requirements.

To accommodate the extra students entering as first-year students this year, CityU is implementing two different start dates. Current students will start on 3 September while the two cohorts of more than 4,000 new students, who will be studying either the new 4-year or the “old” 3-year undergraduate programmes, will start on 10 September.

In terms of space, CityU’s facilities are ready. There are sufficient classrooms on the main campus, with an average utilisation rate of 85% during weekdays, so students do not need to use temporary facilities off campus. CityU has also scheduled flexible timetables and tried to minimise the distance students need to travel to save time between classes.

Naturally, food and drink are important considerations. CityU has seven canteens and restaurants with a seating capacity for around 3,000 at any one time. One of the restaurants will expand its seating capacity from 80 to 220, and two of the canteens will set up more chairs and tables, and provide more take-out counters during peak hours such as lunch.

To avoid congestion during “rush hour”, facilities management personnel from CityU and Festival Walk will be on duty at key points to direct pedestrian traffic back and forth between campus and the mall, and a new 11-seater mini bus that can accommodate three wheelchairs will run between the main campus and the Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre for teachers and students with special needs.

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