University status is key, new HKIEd chief says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2007, 12:00am

Executive Councillor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung was appointed yesterday to head the Hong Kong Institute of Education, and said securing its status as a university would be his top priority.

Professor Cheung, who teaches in the department of public and social administration at City University, will assume his position at the Tai Po teacher-training institute in January. He has been appointed to a five-year term. He was the only candidate recommended by the institute's search committee last week.

The council in June refused to reappoint Paul Morris as president.

Professor Cheung, 54, received support from 12 of the 13 council members in a meeting yesterday. One member abstained.

'The institute is now at a critical stage,' he said. 'I hope HKIEd will step up co-operation within the region and realise its dream of becoming an education university.'

In welcoming the appointment, Education Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung said Professor Cheung's teaching experience should offer plenty of opportunities for co-operation between the HKIEd and the government.

Professor Cheung said his most urgent task would be to secure university status for the institute. He said he would take part in discussions with the University Grants Committee before he takes the helm.

'Being called a university isn't just about the name. It signals a new beginning,' he said.

The institute will hold a roving exhibition in various city districts to introduce its development blueprint to the public, beginning today until the end of October.

Professor Cheung said he would fight for more resources and promote the work and image of HKIEd to the community.

He said the relationship between the institute and the government should be 'friendly and constructive', even though differences of opinion were inevitable.

Government officials and academics should 'interact frankly' and respect and trust each other, he said.

Council chairman Thomas Leung Kwok-fai showered praise on Professor Cheung, saying he had an 'open and embracing' leadership style that would be an asset at a time when 'many problems had arisen internally at HKIEd'.

Staff allegations of government inteference in academic freedom were partly upheld by a judicial inquiry this year, leading to the resignation of Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun as Independent Commission Against Corruption chief. Mrs Fan was formerly permanent secretary for education and manpower.