Hong Kong has long way to go to becoming education hub: HKU law school dean

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 8:12am

The government has failed to fulfil the first chief executive's pledge to develop Hong Kong as an education hub, says the head of the city's top law school.

"Tung Chee-hwa said he wanted to develop Hong Kong into an education hub - but … what has the government done?" asked University of Hong Kong legal faculty dean Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun.

The criticism by Chan, who will step down in December, came after the university fell 20 places in four years on the World University Rankings.

And introducing famed overseas institutions like the British Harrow International School and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business might not be the right way to go, he said. "We already have world-class universities, but we don't have the resources or relevant policies to attract world-class academics."

Air pollution and faults in the local education system were key reasons that made internationally recognised scholars reluctant to remain in the city, he said.

He also called for the government to play a more active role in promoting Hong Kong's universities to the world. "If the government really wants to promote Hong Kong as an education hub, should the Trade Development Council do something?"

Meanwhile, Chan acknowledged that the university's next vice chancellor, British medical scholar Professor Peter Mathieson, might face challenges in his role because of he lacks knowledge of Hong Kong and Asia.

But he said it was more important for the next head to have strong leadership and the ability to get the right people to help him. He hoped Mathieson would maintain the university's tradition of allowing diversity and controversy, he said.