Chapter Five

Strategic Plan 2020–2025: Themes and Aims

The Strategic Plan 2020–2025 is the outcome of three stages of campus-wide consultations that took place between May and October 2019. The process was conducted through face-to-face in-depth interviews, focus group interviews, online consultations and using various instruments to collect information and to solicit input from the University community and stakeholders. Appendix 2 gives details of the consultation and approval processes.

This Plan is prepared with reference to the 25-year roadmap presented in Chapter 2, input collected from consultations, the existing directives and strategic plans, and the challenges, opportunities and gaps in the current planning environment.

Five strategic themes have been identified for 2020–2025 to guide the University’s development towards conducting and delivering world-class research and education. The action aims needed to fulfil these strategic themes, and hence to realise CityU’s vision and mission to be a leading global university, are given below. The detailed action plans are listed in a separate booklet for internal reference.

2020–2025 Strategic Plan:

5.1 Education and Student Development

Creating knowledge and disseminating it through professional education for a better society and a better future are core activities of any world-class university. CityU intends to differentiate its professional education from that of other universities by making the integration of disciplines a distinctive feature. We believe that the mutual enrichment of disciplines in education is vital to achieving the University’s mission to nurture future generations of professional leaders in the fast-changing, globalised world of the 21st century, and promoting the advancement of knowledge. All disciplines are branches of the same tree of knowledge, mutually reinforcing and deeply connected. A holistic learning experience that integrates different disciplines better prepares students to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future. Interdisciplinary teaching is encouraged to provide students with a diverse and intellectually stimulating and challenging educational experience. The curricula will be fine-tuned in order to transform students into creative problem-solvers, effective communicators and future leaders in order to help society deal with change constructively and effectively.

Teaching and research are bound together and cutting-edge research inspires students to learn. The University will further strengthen the teaching–research nexus by implementing a more challenging curriculum that incorporates problem-based learning and research elements to equip students with the tools to find creative solutions to real-world problems. Students will be provided with a learning experience that involves tackling problems from a research perspective and offers rich opportunities to participate in and conduct innovative research in faculty-led projects through collaborations such as CityU’s InnoHK Laboratories and other research laboratories. In the digital age, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence are reshaping the social and economic landscape. The University will keep the curriculum contemporary, leverage advances in technology and deliver a portfolio of innovative technology-enriched programmes to prepare students for careers of the future. With global competition for talented students, it is imperative for us to attract, admit and add value to high-quality, motivated students who will benefit from our interdisciplinary and technology-enriched curriculum and research opportunities.

Aim 1. Develop integrated, interdisciplinary, cutting-edge programmes
Aim 2. Continue to strengthen the research–teaching nexus
Aim 3. Develop a contemporary technology-enriched curriculum
Aim 4. Improve overall quality of admissions and placement, and develop students’ talents

5.2 Research and Knowledge Transfer

CityU is home to some notable scholars in various disciplines from around the world. While ensuring excellence in disciplines as a foundation, the University promotes interdisciplinary research to extend the frontiers of knowledge within and beyond existing research disciplines in order to contribute to solutions to real-world problems and critical global challenges. It is essential to build sufficient critical mass and familiarity so that in time interdisciplinary work will develop a life of its own. While this needs to be a ‘ground up’ effort for sustainability, leadership/convenorship at University level at the initial stage is essential.

In response to global challenges, we will combine our collective research expertise to develop translational research under the following five areas:

One Health: One Health will develop and integrate interdisciplinary, problem-based research collaborations and communications in all aspects of health-related issues, such as policy, delivery systems, and services related to healthcare; public health efficiency; food nexus; and management operations, biocompatible materials/coating, transport in biosystems, and systems engineering. This research area involves the complex interactions and inter-dependencies of animal and human populations with each other and the environment to generate better health outcomes.

Digital Society: The potential impact of the digital age is enormous, entailing the use of technological development (such as new materials for computing, batteries, and sensors) to advance our economy, culture and society. A thorough understanding of the relationship between technology and society, informed by the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, will be generated by vigorous interdisciplinary research leading to substantial knowledge transfer activities.

Smart City: Smart City provides a cross-cutting research initiative among diverse disciplines and programmes leading to innovative solutions to address regional and global concerns about sustainable economic development, high quality of life, and harmony of the built environment with nature. This initiative encompasses such challenges as sustainable energy, climate change, environmental degradation, urban planning, government regulation and the law.

Matter: The study of matter (or materials) is one of the three pillars on which the modern civilisation is built, with the study of energy and information as the other two. The study of matter in its various forms brings together researchers from all the natural sciences in the collaborative development of science, engineering and technology. This interdisciplinary research initiative aims to provide an impetus to innovation through practical applications in various disciplines and fields. It therefore covers different aspects of research, including the theoretical, numerical and experimental study of matter from synthesis to processing and fabrication, from properties evaluation to modification, and from design to applications. Other focuses include the integration of advanced materials, nanotechnology and computer science to address major contemporary challenges in ageing and health, new energy sources and storage, environmental hazards, future information and communication technology, and additive manufacturing routes such as 3D/4D printing.

Brain: Research topics related to the human brain and the computer brain — that is, neuroscience and artificial intelligence — provide a deep understanding of the potential of the human–machine interface as well as creating significant improvements in productivity, thus driving the advancement of human intelligence and society as a whole. The understanding of the brain and the understanding of the mind are inseparable. Cognitive science is based on the assumption that human cognition can be modelled as computation. With the help of brain imaging, in combination with extensive health records, clinical data and genetic data, interdisciplinary collaborative efforts covering biology, neuroscience, medicine, psychology, computer science and linguistics can help us better understand the structure and functions of the brain, study the pathology and genetic predisposition of neurological disorders, and contribute to developing diagnostic tools and treatments for disease. This area of study therefore connects with the first research area — One Health — and suggests that collaboration between the areas we have identified, as well as within them, could be productive.

To directly benefit Hong Kong and beyond, CityU supports technology and non-technology knowledge transfer and actively engages in global research collaborations to help solve real-world problems. In pursuing research in specific interdisciplinary areas, as outlined above, we therefore aim to:

Aim 5. Achieve global leadership in science, engineering and life sciences
Aim 6. Develop translational research within five interdisciplinary focal areas (One Health, Digital Society, Smart City, Matter, Brain)
Aim 7. Improve knowledge transfer infrastructure and promotion
Aim 8. Lead global research networks to create positive social impact

5.3 Faculty and Staff Advancement

CityU’s most important asset is its human capital: students, faculty and staff. The remarkable achievements of our community over the past decades have made CityU one of the world’s outstanding universities. In order to continue our upward trajectory, it is of the utmost importance that we continue to attract talented people and motivate them to grow with us.

To achieve this aim, we need to cultivate an inclusive workplace that embraces greater diversity, promotes care and love for one another, respects differences, and nurtures individual talent. We must set priorities to recruit talented people with diverse backgrounds from around the world and support them to become stars in their field. In the current circumstances, creative approaches are needed to instil confidence among overseas talents to work in Hong Kong. We will also strengthen our management model further to improve accountability and efficiency, through appropriate delegation and vigilant streamlining of structures and processes. Our existing human resources policies provide the framework to reward performance and we will continue to refine these policies to respond to the rapidly changing external environment.

Aim 9. Further improve number, quality, diversity and retention of high-performing faculty and staff
Aim 10. Maintain faculty and staff well-being and promote organisational inclusion
Aim 11. Enhance knowledge generation and recognise faculty output
Aim 12. Strengthen the accountability of unit heads for effective unit management

5.4 Campus Growth and Sustainability

Hong Kong is a vibrant but crowded city: these two factors are exemplified in our city campus. Despite a comprehensive and ambitious campus plan providing significant additional buildings for students and faculty, space remains at a premium. Improvements to space allocation methodology, adoption of smart campus initiatives and the use of effective initiatives including data analytics-based decision making will help to ensure we make the best use of our existing provision. However, the rapid development of the Greater Bay Area on the Mainland, in addition to other potential offshore sites, provides a timely opportunity to take advantage of preferential terms for strategic expansion. Therefore, the provision of new space away from the main campus to facilitate growth in our key areas is a pressing demand over the period of this and successive strategic plans.

The University places top priority on campus safety and security for faculty and students to conduct academic activities freely. Also, whilst expansion is necessary, this must be achieved in a sustainable and effective way to ensure that the University can continue to attract the very best talents in terms of faculty and students. Our world faces significant environmental, economic and social challenges, from inequality to climate change, food security and water shortages. Universities must take the lead in acting now to create a world that can support generations to come. CityU already has a strong strategy for sustainability, incorporating social, economic and environmental principles that have been in place for a decade or more. The development and operation of effective self-sustaining campuses, utilising the latest developments in green technology, will ensure we continue to take a leading role in these global endeavours.

Aim 13. Maintain a safe and harmonious campus environment
Aim 14. Operate self-sustaining campuses on the Mainland and elsewhere to focus on physical science, engineering and life sciences
Aim 15. Manage each campus through efficient planning and effective implementation
Aim 16. Synergise data analytics systems centrally to aid decision making
Aim 17. Continue to promote a sustainable green campus

5.5 Global Identity and University Advancement

CityU is very much embedded in the Greater China Region and has become a regional hub for higher education. The University looks outward and thinks beyond conventional boundaries to educate the future generation of professionals who will work in a range of cultures. Our internationalised education system underscores the importance of equipping students with an international horizon and nurturing global citizenship. The enormous efforts already made towards CityU’s internationalisation agenda have been well recognised internationally. CityU is ranked 1st in THE World University Rankings 2019 in “International Outlook” and in THE Most International Universities 2020. The University is ready to devote more energy and resources to expanding its global partnership with overseas institutions in order to provide a diverse menu of overseas learning opportunities and learning experiences. The University will continue to develop networks around the world through partnerships with industry and with universities and other institutions that empower CityU as an international reference brand.

CityU’s global reputation largely stems from its world-class research and professional education. The University has become known for academically rigorous research in several fields, identifying and addressing grand challenges that impact the development of society and the future. Building upon past achievements, the University will reinforce areas in which we already have expertise and strength. As we look to the future, the University will identify and develop areas of internationally recognised research expertise as well as identify new areas with the potential to engage stakeholders and supporters directly and society more generally. CityU is committed to developing global excellence in a broader range of fields of science and engineering, not simply in a few niche areas. To increase our global reputation, we will promote our achievements and high-impact research in a more coherent, targeted manner and highlight our value to a wider range of stakeholders, including scholars, students, employers, government agencies, professional bodies, international organisations, donors and alumni. Through a review of our public relations strategy and publicity activities, the University will take a proactive approach to improving the effectiveness of communications and promotions.

Aim 18. Expand global outreach, promote diversity and foster an inclusive, multicultural environment
Aim 19. Develop global excellence in more areas and fields to increase recognition of the University’s accomplishments
Aim 20. Attract further community support for University advancement
Aim 21. Promote proactive approaches to public relations