Staff's transitional role
STAFF at City Polytechnic of Hong Kong (CPHK) have played an integral role in preparing the institute for the transition to university.
Dr Kam Wai-kee, from the Department of Applied Statistics and Operational Research and first head of the Maths Department, has ensured academic staff have played a part in shaping the polytechnic.
As one of two pro-directors at CPHK, it is Dr Kam's role to consult with lecturers and professors who draw up courses, study plans and develop research programmes.
'The polytechnic aims at participative management with the main input coming from the academic staff,' he said.
'Staff are involved at every level in planning courses and building on a department's strengths.
'They are part of the growth process of the polytechnic and some have worked so hard they can claim 'ownership' of some courses.' Dr Kam said academic staff served on the many committees set up through the CPHK, giving them an input at the managerial level.
'The polytechnic operates on a 'bicameral' system, separating its academic role from management,' he said.
'However, academic staff give advice on courses and determine what programmes should be offered.
'Some courses are cheaper to run than others but, even though it is expensive to provide a comprehensive law library or fully equip an electrical engineering workshop, the academic staff deems it necessary.
'Academic staff make the decisions which are then taken to the management to see how projects will be funded.' Dr Kam said having a strong academic staff had made the polytechnic's transition to a university smooth.
'From the beginning, we recruited staff in the hope that, one day, the polytechnic would become a university,' he said.
'We knew we would be offering degree courses in the future and, right from the start, we pitched at a university level and recruited staff for that goal.
'Unlike other polytechnics and colleges that made the transition to universities, we will not have to carry the burden of under-qualified staff.' Although it had not been determined when the title of City University of Hong Kong would be granted, Dr Kam said the polytechnic was already a university in every way except name.
'The University and Polytechnic Grants Committee (UPGC) decided the transition should be in three stages and, in 1992, many academic staff started receiving university wages,' he said.
In 1993, the UPGC awarded the polytechnic self-accreditation, allowing it to decide which courses it would offer without having to have them approved.