TWO local universities are to receive $3.7 million - in cash and computer software - in the wake of Bill Gates' brief visit to the territory last week. The donation by Mr Gates' company, Microsoft, is to help the University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong to establish multimedia laboratories. The US-based software corporation will also allow the two universities to develop and test on-line services on the Microsoft Network free of charge. The donation includes the $300,000 Mr Gates raised from charity dinners with local businessmen and public lectures on the information superhighway during his stay in Hong Kong. The cash, together with donated software such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.0, and Internet Information Server will help the institutes design, install and review their on-line services. During a lecture at the University of Science and Technology, Mr Gates said he foresaw that multimedia computer technology would 'revolutionise' teaching and learning in universities throughout the world. When asked of the advantages computers would offer in future education, Mr Gates said that in a few years the main system information delivery by teachers to students would take a sharp turn. 'Through computers, students will have access to libraries all over the world. Lectures will go to different parts of the world through video conferencing.' More than 2,000 students from the seven local tertiary institutes and close on 40 secondary schools attended the lecture. Mr Gates emphasised, however, that classroom interaction between teachers and students would remain, since there was still a need for human contact. During the lecture, he manipulated an interactive video to demonstrate his prediction of 'doing homework by computer' in the year 2004. A student in the video hovers over his networked computer to complete a history assignment. From the network, he downloads multimedia information with sound, video and text. He arranges it in the computer with no need for paper, then presents his assignment on a big screen in the classroom. 'In the past, only very sophisticated and expensive computers could do multimedia presentations. In a few years, PCs [personal computers] will be able to do the same thing,' Mr Gates said. With the rapid delivery of information through computer networks, Mr Gates stressed that academic essays - the main source of research material - would not be limited to printed journals but would be dispersed through the computer network. His vision for the future included the desire for all students to have access to a computer; that each student be empowered to pursue individual learning; and that students, parents, educators and the community stay connected. Mr Gates' lecture was downloaded on to the Internet and broadcast live in lecture theatres at the University of Science and Technology, the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Jason Cheung, a year one industrial engineering and engineering management student at the University of Science and Technology, said computers could only provide 'technical assistance' to learning, and doubted whether they would change the direction of local education. 'It depends whether Hong Kong universities install hi-tech multimedia computer equipment - it will take quite some time before Hong Kong can catch up,' he said.