Hong Kong's introduction of a 3-3-4 academic structure with three years junior and three years senior secondary, and four years tertiary undergraduate programme will see the city's universities rolling out new four-year university curricula from next year. This third article in our series on the 3-3-4 education reform focuses on how Tung Wah College, a new tertiary institution opening its doors in September, has prepared for the challenge.
When the new Tung Wah College starts up this autumn, it will be ready to run a four-year university programme for its introductory Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) - allowing it to incorporate the new 3-3-4 system.
'The BBA already takes this into account, although this year we still have Form 7. Students will see this as added value,' says college president Professor Thomas Wong.
He says the teaching objective is the holistic development of students, teaching them to communicate, work as a team and respect other's opinions while enhancing their critical and analytical skills. The school has decided on helping them gain real-life work experience by following the example of some North American, Japanese and Taiwanese universities which include paid work rather than internships in their curriculum.
Expanding this idea, Tung Wah College includes one year of fully paid, full-time work, which will run parallel with part-time teaching and coaching on the part of the university. This cooperative education is also a first in Hong Kong, Wong says. 'Students will benefit from being coached by two groups of people - the company and the school - and the learning experience will become more relevant and real. We also want to develop their coping mechanism and strengthen their resilience.'
The school has already signed up over 100 firms to the scheme, but jobs will not be allocated, so students will have to approach these companies and apply for a job. At the end of the year, they will undergo a joint appraisal by the school and the respective company.
To ease students into working life, the school made voluntary work within the college mandatory for freshmen. 'They will tidy up the campus, make it greener and look after themselves, to feel they own this campus,' Wong says. 'In the second year, we will employ some of them as student helpers, and pay them as well. In the third year, they will participate in the co-op education.
He says the college will teach not only business management but also management of non-profit organisations. 'How do I differentiate [us] from other universities? We want to bring up students who have a sense of community engagement,' he adds.
Elective general education courses are offered in four categories - arts and literature, culture and society, reasoning and ethics, as well as science and environment.
These will be adjusted according to students' interests and the school will add more courses on southern China's culture and economy, Wong says.
The college's total capacity will be 4,000 students and about 160 educators. In the first year, the offering will include BBA (Hons) in accounting, finance and marketing majors, and will start with about 200 freshmen and 55 third-year students - the latter joining from associate degree courses.
By January 2012, the college hopes to start a two-year nursing programme, for which they already have about 300 students on the waiting list. Next September, it also hopes to launch a degree programme in health science with major in either nursing or applied gerontology. Both courses will fill acute needs in local health care. Plans also include a BBA in management and knowledge transfer, and degrees in social sciences, including psychology and applied sociology.