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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 3:56am
NewsHong Kong

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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This article is now closed to comments

Jiaotong, a top engineering u in Shanghai where students achieve the world's best Pisa scores, admitted top students from all over the country
(1) “how did you know that and where was your simulation to prove that”?
Rather than stupid, the question is a meaningful challenge, implying distrust of authority that seemed preoccupied with something superficial. As such it refutes allegations about rote learning and blind compliance. Beaker may wish to appreciate the humor.
(2) We know nothing about the alleged SOE and the roles of Beaker and his “engineers”. As Martin Posth, the VW director who set up the first j/v car factory in Shanghai noted: difficulties in cultural fit and human cooperation account for 80% of Chinese foreign j/v problems(p.97)
(3) “they will get into a good school, but not given their choice of education. … (to) pursue their chosen field, … they don't get to go to the big name school .. . most graduates working in professions which they did not choose”. Is Beaker saying that his engineers are those who applied to study history in u and those who applied to study engineering have become doctors?
I wanted to summarily dismiss Beaker’s allegations which to me are so obviously biased and unreliable, knowing that I won’t have the patience to write a detailed rejoinder. That’s why I am rushing thru in this ordinary format. My case needs no help. If I wrote more enthusiastically, it would have come out in my usual format.

pslhk You cannot summarily dismiss anything I said. There are other people with access to Mainland students who will find the same things as i did just for the asking. You may "want to summarily dismiss", but you cannot. Where are you going to go with this? Where is your argument? Where is your cogent stance? You have none because, you lack the IQ to go head to head with me. You are flailing, and with no grace. But, try. Go ahead. Quite simply, you are at best of average intelligence. You got your job because of parental guanxi and that you learned English well from a foreign maid they hired, but your job requires more than English skills. Your job requires cunning and deceit. You try in deceit, but you are not cunning enough to pull it off. "Ham fisted" is the word we use for your behavior. Simply repeating the same algorithmic attempts to dispel cogent arguments from others. Deal with it, you are out of your league. Call your father. Oh, no, he has too many watches and cannot be seen in public. hahaha
From my impression of this commentator's previous postings
and my experiences with Jiaotong's graduates in sciences
Beaker's either a misunderstanding
"I got all of this from talking to our engineers"
or much more likely, intentional disinformation
We've all heard about Cambridge graduates
who speak worse than Chinganesh
Beaker should make one ask
in whose company are those "substandard" Jiaotong graduates,
if there were such?
Badmouthing is meant to gain "reputation" and "authority"
part of this superficial world's "good guys" "bad guys" dichotomy
Hear and see
The self-understanding of this hiring manager who claims to be
“the ultimate consumer of the products of Chinese Universities”
When I’m back to the other computer to upload his other words of wisdom
we should see that he is a reliable source of miserable jokes
Again, scmp
why have the three comments of early this morning disappeared?
Interesting. Please do tell about the academic fraud cases that you seem so knowledgeable about.
jpinst, how many mainland u’s have you visited
during your terrible life of suffering
self-inflicted nightmarish cold war delusion
overflowing with fears, envies and ignorance?
Professors of top US u's told me very different things
after recent Sabbaticals in mainland u's
Go see if the women underneath Canal Road flyover may help you
before your nightmares become even more terrible
Your own projections as you don't know.
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.
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.
Astonishing. These arrangements are almost unethical, except that the student participants themselves are not complaining.



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