Promoting an international outlook
[Sponsored Article] A key objective for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is to offer students a global education, which allows them to experience different cultures, develop an informed outlook, and broaden their horizons so that they may make their mark in the world.
This approach is embedded into various programmes’ curricula. It begins with first-year courses which are designed to encourage a more international mindset, as well as credit-bearing service learning modules, which require students to work with disadvantaged groups in the wider community.
It continues with a wide choice of academic exchange programmes, international internships and extracurricular service activities, all made possible by a strong network of allied universities around the world. These opportunities will be further enhanced by new links inspired by the university’s 80th anniversary celebrations, which kicked off on 25 November 2016 with a high-powered forum focusing on China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.
“We make a point of actively connecting across borders, providing exciting education opportunities for students, while also increasing the university’s visibility around the world,” says professor Angelina Yuen, vice-president (Student and Global Affairs). “That’s because we want our students to be global citizens, who understand the uniqueness and richness of different cultures and embrace diversity, but who are also grounded and ready to play a full part in local university life.”
To this end, PolyU has already teamed up with more than 330 overseas institutions in close to 50 different countries or regions. This provides a platform for everything from short-term study tours to joint degrees and collaborative research projects.
More specifically, as of June this year, there were 290-plus agreements in place under the university’s well-established academic exchange programme. This means around 700 students a year have the chance to go overseas, benefitting from all the new experiences that entails, with a similar number of inbound exchange students arriving at PolyU.
In addition, full-time undergraduates can take advantage of an ever-expanding range of internships, service learning schemes and leadership programmes. These too are designed to give exposure to different cultures, with some putting more emphasis on business and the commercial sector, while others focus on the needs of grassroots communities in countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar and Rwanda.
“The world is becoming increasingly complex, with new tensions, challenges and opportunities,” Yuen says. “It’s an absolute must for our students and future generations to be able to work alongside people from different cultures. In fact, that is now more urgent than ever before.”
This year also saw the launch of an International Summer School. A total of 257 students from Hong Kong, the mainland and other countries took part in courses, field trips and a distinguished lecture series, all intended to enrich the learning experience outside the classroom.
Among other pluses, this has added an extra dimension to PolyU’s already strong connections with the mainland, where there are currently links with some 350 institutes and organisations. These include outpost centres to spearhead close collaboration with Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, and with Xi’an Jiaotong University.
To take things forward, there are also liaison offices at Peking University, and at Tongji University in Shanghai. The PolyU Shenzhen Base is paving the way in terms of commercialisation, training and research. And the Institute for Disaster Management and Reconstruction in Sichuan, set up with Sichuan University, is focused on practical, cost-effective solutions to long-term, real-world problems.
“Our partnerships with elite mainland universities have led to 23 award-bearing programmes,” says Dr Laura Lo, PolyU’s director of Chinese Mainland Affairs. “We also organised a first Silk Road International Summer School in 2014, along with Xi’an Jiaotong University and other institutions in Britain, the United States, Australia, South Korea and Taiwan. It has since become a great opportunity for students to learn about Chinese history and culture through lectures, field trips, and simply having the chance to meet and interact.”