PolyU milestone anniversary signposts new routes to success, says chairman
[Sponsored Article] As The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) marks its milestone 80th anniversary with a year-long series of programmes and activities, the university’s Council Chairman, Ignatius Chan Tze-ching, known as TC Chan, believes it is in an ideal position to continue breaking new ground and scaling new heights.
As PolyU Council Chairman, TC says he is keen for the university to continue to build on a number of key strengths and areas of expertise. These include close collaboration with the Hong Kong business community, excellence in applied research, a track record of transferring knowledge into practical applications, and the ability to inspire individuals to open up new horizons. Also notable, says TC, is the consistent way PolyU has pioneered new methods of delivering higher learning programmes to ensure students develop the necessary skills that contribute to economic prosperity and their own personal aspirations, a philosophy that has been a prominent feature throughout PolyU’s eight-decade evolution from technical college to polytechnic to full university status in 1994.
“With PolyU’s focus on delivering higher learning programmes across professional fields and through applied research, the university holds a special position among Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee-funded universities,” notes TC, who stresses that the majority of programmes and research are closely aligned for practicality and relevance to the needs of Hong Kong’s industries, commerce and the wider community. A good example, he says, is the BEng (Hon) programme in Aviation Engineering, which PolyU began offering last year. The initiative is designed to meet the needs of the fast-growing aviation industry and the construction of the third runway at Hong Kong’s International Airport. This year, PolyU will launch a BBA (Hons) in Aviation Management and Logistics. “It is important that PolyU plays a key role in supporting the aviation industry and nurturing talent to capitalise on Hong Kong’s competitive advantages as a global aviation hub,” says TC, who was appointed by the government at the beginning of 2016 for a three-year term.
In his capacity as Council Chairman, TC views his role as helping to define and guide PolyU’s direction by bringing together the experience, knowledge and support of different stakeholders. “It is important to maintain open communication with all stakeholders including Council members, PolyU management, teaching faculty and students to ensure a balance of perspectives,” says TC, who first served on the PolyU Council in April 2005, and as deputy council chairman since April 2013. Among his many engagements, TC is currently a senior advisor to the Bank of East Asia and an independent non-executive director of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Clearing Limited.
As one of the largest government-funded tertiary institutions in Hong Kong with a 30,000-strong student population and an alumnus numbering almost 400,000, TC says PolyU is able to leverage on the diverse knowledge and experience of its graduates and faculty. He says PolyU’s close ties across a wide range of business and industry sectors enable the university to keep its programmes relevant and benefit from deep insights and partnership co-operation. Whether it is teaching or research, TC says PolyU places particular emphasis on the way knowledge and skills can be applied, from creating new jobs and professional skills, to expanding commercial opportunities, contributing to sustainability and helping businesses to operate in a more efficient and effective way. For instance, PolyU plays a pro-active role in the hospitality and tourism sector. Wholly owned by PolyU, and as an extension of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM), the purpose-built Hotel ICON completely integrates teaching, learning and research in a full-service environment. As a result of its own research, Hotel ICON introduced a complementary in-room mini bar concept and free Wi-Fi service, which was credited with boosting customer satisfaction, and these features were mimicked internationally by other hotels. Hotel ICON is also the first to operate a fleet of sustainable, zero-emission electric vehicles which are used for airport transfers and chauffeur-driven sightseeing. TC believes PolyU’s teaching strengths and successful application of hotel and tourism could make a valuable contribution to new hotel and tourism ventures created by the China-led “One Belt, One Road” initiative along more than 60 countries, including many where hotels and tourism is an undeveloped industry. “We see this as a huge opportunity for PolyU to share our hotel and tourism expertise and talents,” says TC. This is a philosophy that aligns with PolyU’s motto of “To learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind”.
With the goal of advancing higher education as a catalyst for social change through education, research and community service, PolyU played a leading role in forming an alliance with 13 renowned international universities to form a University Social Responsibility (USR) Network to spearhead USR aiming to make the world a better place. The Network operates a mechanism designed to share ideas and resources to develop collaborative USR projects.
TC says PolyU has also taken a leading role in providing education and academic support channels considered necessary for success in the 21st century. These include a mandatory work-integrated education component for full-time undergraduate students, and credit-bearing Service-Learning education designed to equip students with social awareness competencies, moral character and a caring disposition, qualities that are increasingly valued by employers. Furthermore, in a globalised, knowledge-based environment where individuals across all industries are encouraged to engage in continuous professional development (CPD), PolyU is one of the first Hong Kong higher education institutions to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) to raise learning standards and benefit the wider community.