Top-class foreign universities will not necessarily raise academic standards

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 12:00am

I could not agree more with Victoria Sung ('No need for foreign universities', August 13) replying to Kelly Yang's column ('Campus chase', August, 10).

Undeniably, setting up campuses of some world-class universities in Hong Kong would have a positive effect on local tertiary education, yet the benefit would not be as great as Ms Yang thinks. It is an oversimplification to assert that having second campuses of some world-class universities would automatically boost the overall quality of education of a city.

In fact, bringing in these foreign institutions would not be as ideal as she thinks. Ms Yang asserts that they bring 'many exceptional educators and students to that city'. This does not necessarily seem to be the case.

At Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS) College, only one professor from Yale will function as a temporary dean in charge of recruitment of faculty. As for New York University (NYU) in Shanghai, faculty members are mainly recruited locally.

Second, studying at these ancillary institutions will not result in a degree from the prestigious institution. Yale-NUS graduates receive an NUS degree rather than a Yale degree.

With NYU in Shanghai, students are required to study for at least two years at NYU in the United States to get a degree. If overseas students want to get a degree from Yale or NYU, wouldn't it better for them to do their entire degree at these prestigious universities?

I should also point out that the Yale-NUS College is still in the planning stage and will not even open until 2013. Therefore, little can be said at this point about its effect on the quality of education in the city.

Finally, Kelly Yang mentioned a specific benefit brought by Yale: its liberal education model. However, this sort of liberal arts education is already available in Hong Kong. Lingnan University is a leading liberal arts university in Asia.

The keen competition for places in the sought-after philosophy programme offered by Lingnan proves the university's achievement in this area.

When it comes to teaching staff, the faculty members of the department of philosophy include world-class professors, such as Paisley Livingston. Put simply, Lingnan is already at least equal to, if not better than, Yale-NUS College in terms of liberal arts education.

Ho Kam-tong, Yuen Long