HKU students will benefit from making trips to mainland

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2015, 4:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2015, 4:20pm

I refer to the University of Hong Kong's wish to have all its students attend one mainland and one overseas "learning experience" from 2022.

It is the right time for the university to introduce this policy. In his policy address in January, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying encouraged students to join exchange programmes on the mainland and pledged to provide financial and professional support.

The University Grants Committee is working on its funding allocation for various local universities for 2016 to 2019. Critics say HKU is sucking up to the government so it can get a bigger slice of the financial pie.

However, I think that under "one country, two systems", local students should be learning more about our motherland. HKU students are mature enough to think independently and there is no danger of them being brainwashed during their trips north of the border. It is important for them to see the mainland for themselves rather than coming to conclusions about the country based on what they have learned indirectly from other sources.

Critics of the policy may be biased, given their concerns over corruption among maniland officials and human rights abuses. But the changes needed in China cannot be achieved overnight and there is so much more to study and learn about the country other than the present administration. Through travelling to different countries young people learn more.

Some of the world's greatest philosophers and philosophical works came from China, such as Confucius, Laozi and the I-Ching. In 2012, 328,330 international students were studying in a variety of disciplines at various universities across the country. It now ranks third after the US and the UK as the world's most popular study destination. Many Chinese universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings.

China wants to go global. The Chinese economy has clearly been a global powerhouse for some time, but it is now pegged - by the World Bank and other leading statistical agencies - to overtake the US as the world's leading economy in the near future.

We should be pragmatic, as we need to know more about our neighbour and its economics values.

Dr Raymond Tam, principal, G.T. (Ellen Yeung) College