Chatting about university matters over a cup of tea

Shirley Lam

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Some 40 staff from academic departments, administrative offices and the senior management spent a relaxing evening at the President’s residence on 10 June, openly exchanging views on the University’s latest challenges.

 

Dubbed “A dialogue with the President”, the gathering is a new, direct way for Professor H K Chang, President, and senior management to listen to staff, including officers of the Staff Association in an informal setting. The President intends to foster a culture of more open communication at the University by hosting these regular talks, in addition to his annual visits to departments and offices and his regular messages to staff and students via Linkage, the web and public forums.

 

The topic for the night was “Meeting the Challenge of Change”. In view of the uncertainties of recent months, staff was eager to learn about the University’s long-term planning and how to cope with the changes that come with the funding cuts, changing higher education landscape and the University’s shift of focus.

 

Many issues related to self-financing programmes were discussed, ranging from policies, quality of programmes, and space availability to the marketing of programmes. Staff raised the necessity of making known to future students that CityU would not differentiate UGC-funded students and self-financed students, and that the same quality assurance mechanism would be applied, regardless of funding modes.

 

Staff expressed a wish for more discussion on how to align teaching and learning methods to learning outcomes and for a focus on how to enhance student quality. Suggestions were made on how to improve the quality of CityU education, for example, by expanding the student exchange programme and by admitting more non-JUPAS and mainland applicants.

 

About building strongholde on the mainland, the President recounted CityU’s achievements in the last 12 months, especially in forging links there through joint programmes and collaborative research. Following the renewal of our academic exchange agreement with ZhejiangUniversity on 7 June, CityU will soon sign a note of understanding with the University of Science and Technology of China for the establishment of a high-level, joint research centre in Suzhou. The two universities will conduct advanced and strategic research. They also will provide graduate and professional training in areas such as nanotechnology, environmental science, applied mathematics, and innovation and knowledge management.

 

To facilitate planning for future activities on the mainland and development of self-financing programmes, the University has plans to set up two steering committees for mainland China policies and self-financing activities respectively.

 

It was agreed that the University should build the CityU brand locally, on the mainland, and internationally. We should continue to take advantage of CityU’s strong bilingualism and international outlook to build trilateral relations between Hong Kong, the mainland and overseas countries.

 

In addition to improving our existing marketing and public relations, every staff member should help promote the brand name of the University by doing their best whether it is teaching, research or administration. Participants agreed that solidarity is important and that staff should pull together and see themselves as belonging to one larger entity rather than as small, separate units.

 

The next dialogue will take place in September, and thereafter on a monthly basis. Colleagues can socialize and, in a relaxing and informal setting, exchange views and ideas about issues concerning the University’s operation and further advancement.


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