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  • Oct 31, 2014
  • Updated: 6:47pm
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EDUCATION

Hong Kong universities 'face bigger challenge from mainland campuses'

HKUST vice chancellor warns city could lose its place as first choice for the best students and should seek greater support from businesses

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 3:49pm

Hong Kong universities have been warned to prepare for stiffer challenges from elite mainland institutions that have more money and bigger pools of talent.

While attention has focused recently on how the city's position as China's primary financial centre may be under threat from Shanghai, a leading academic said it was also in danger of losing its standing as top choice for the nation's brightest students.

The vice chancellor of the University of Science and Technology, Tony Chan Fan-cheong, said the likes of Peking University and Tsinghua University were working hard to raise their standards.

"They have global ambition and great students. That's the long-term competition we're up against. We have to keep running to stay in place."

His warning comes ahead of the release tomorrow of a new global ranking of universities by Times Higher Education.

Chan said Hong Kong's universities cannot compete with the mainland on money or talent. "These I think they have in abundance. But how to use them efficiently and in a proper way so that you don't corrupt your core values? That is another question."

Chan, giving his first interview since renewing a contract that will run until 2019, said Hong Kong must play to its unique strengths: free flow of information and a robust rule of law.

"Here you can get any information. You can access Facebook, Google, Twitter or weibo. Everything is available," he said.

Hong Kong's universities constantly rank among the best in Asia and have become the preferred choice of the mainland's best students.

At the same time, they have been criticised for not working closely enough with the business and commercial sectors. A survey in August by Times Higher Education ranked the city's universities behind those in Korea, Singapore, China and even Turkey in terms of collaborating with business in research efforts.

Chan said local universities should strive for more support from business communities.

"I often envy our counterparts in Korea, because they have scholarships and labs sponsored by companies like Samsung and LG, and when their students graduate, they can get into these companies."

Chan noted that many mainland-based companies, such as Lenovo or Huawei, were setting up labs in Hong Kong.

He said the city must seize these opportunities.

"The government has a role to play in this," said Chan. "It needs to offer [more] initiatives and incentives. We have all the right ingredients. We just need a leader with a vision."

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Camel
Your own projections as you don't know.
mercedes2233
Is this from knowledge or just your conjectures? You can't be an academic since you don't appear to know the standards of mainland universities. Some are indeed highly regarded by western universities, whatever you might think.
johnyuan
Hong Kong universities are happy how they are safely supported by tax money for their operation as well as research work. Conversely, businesses in Hong Kong prefer purchase of provened result over investing in uncertainty of D&R. Much of this business culture predicated that time is the essence. To most, there is plenty shortage of time in this town.
There is perhaps more reason to invest in mainland instead and LKS knows better as we can see of his latest investment in education in his hometown there. There is no shortage of time there.
mercedes2233
EHI, Why criticize SCMP on this when it was reporting the views of one Vice-Chancellor? It was not offering its own views.
Many western universities rush into China for a variety of reasons, since it is the flavor of the month, or century, hence Stanford in Beijing, according to you. Even western secondary schools form sister school connections with China. So what?
So HK universities should heed your advice? Liberal arts, science and cultural programmes are the least favored by undergraduates (and employers) probably the world over, and many departments in these disciplines have been severely cut because of lack of student enrolment. Perhaps you should advise undergraduates of their obligations to develop 'a robust creative class to benefit the city and its people'. I am sure they have less altruistic and more personal ambitions.
Beaker
You do know that many Western schools see Chinese students as profit? Even famous schools such as Carnegie Mellon and (bows head) Stanford offers Chinese special curricula where almost all the students who take the curricula are Chinese, and mediocre students get in with no issues (per Chinese graduate about her peers). Imagine this, a 9 month MSCS for $50,000 USD. I had to tell my Chinese friends to take the real one, not the Chinese special. U of Bath in UK had a MSME in automotive design. The text basically explained what the engine/trans does and there are 4 wheels. So, for more money, many schools are forming JVs with Mainland universities, both to get Chinese tuition money and to aggrandize themselves with a Chinese presence, because it looks good. Problem will be, hiring businesses will need to sort out which ones got the real degrees from the ones who got the special degrees intended to look good on a supposedly Western educated, but hardly qualified graduate. In many cases, it won't matter because those with that kind of money have guanxi and parents will get them good jobs where promotions will not be based on merit. I also got that from working at the SOE, where the least capable were the fastest promoted and given the highest profile jobs, to better prepare their CV for later advancement up the Party outside of the SOE, perhaps in municipal government. Aside from Tsinghua, where it really is special, no need to worry. The societal baggage self limits.
mercedes2233
Astonishing. These arrangements are almost unethical, except that the student participants themselves are not complaining.
Beaker
The ones benefitting from the guanxi system are not complaining, no, not at all. The ones who do most of the work but without guanxi, they quit after their 2 yrs contract is up and go elsewhere, some to MNC's, some to small private companies. I am friends with those who have quit, so this is from 1st hand knowledge. There is an ever increasing number of useless people with guanxi in the SOEs. I have an example for pslhk where one of these **** said a test I asked for could not be done, supplier has no ability. I asked a guy who sat next to me for 4 years, who is now Chief Engineer of the same supplier after he quit SOE, and he said it is a normal thing, here is the data. See what SOEs are loaded with? trash who could not get jobs elsewhere except for jobs from their parents' guanxi. You want names? Good luck "catching up" with the West. I thought you have to run faster than the ones up front if you want to catch up. All I see is falling back slower with **** like this.
EHI
It is true that my patience for this idiotic paper is running thin, whoever manages it needs a slap in the face to wake him/herself up. It is either in a position of intending to disseminate misinformation, or it is a outmoded paper that cannot seem to come to terms with reality thus resorting to the comfort of omitting facts just to fool itself into thinking that it still has anything relevant to say.
Hong Kong would be better off to forget "competing" with Beijing in regard to education for the simple reason that Beijing, for many centuries, has been the place with enough means and experience to nurture the intelligentsia, something that the students in Hong Kong can try to work with and learn from through exchanges and ties. This explains why Stanford has a research center in Beijing and not Hong Kong (by the way, the campus is truly a beautiful piece of art):
• fsi.stanford.edu/news/stanford_research_center_opens_at_peking_university_20120321/
• scpku.stanford.edu/
What universities in Hong Kong can do is to strengthen their liberal arts, science and cultural programs if they are to move with the times to the next stage of development to build a robust creative class to benefit the city and its people.
Beaker
The editor is a Commie with a pinyin name, installed May, 2011. Pinyin name means they are from Mainland. Chan=Canto. Chen = ML. Wong/Wang, but lots of ML people now are changing their spelling to pretend to be HK people. I've not yet met one going the opposite way. Go figure. Hey pslHK, what is the spelling of your name? Dare to admit it? Dai lug jai
partridge
And when your curriculum is tied to a business agenda, then watch your quality decline...

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