Tung Chee-hwa's Policy Address last week drew generally favourable comments from university heads and other top academics. They praised the Chief Executive for focusing on a few key issues rather than trying to tackle everything in one speech. He received top marks for recognising the importance of quality-of-life concerns - such as the environment and education. Cleaner air would not only make Hong Kong a better place to live, it would help attract more foreign investors, the educators reasoned. Regarding education, most were either cautiously optimistic or preferred to reserve comment. Mr Tung spoke at length about the role education could play in creating a knowledge-based society, but there were few specifics. Saying that Hong Kong had 'a first-class economy, second-class people and a third-class environment', Professor Edward Chen Kwan-yiu, president of Lingnan University, gave the address an A 'on the basis of [Mr Tung's] determination to tackle the fundamental problems of Hong Kong in the longer term'. 'Quality people and quality life - [a] better environment in a broad sense - are crucial for attracting direct investments, especially from overseas,' Professor Chen said. Calling the speech 'balanced and well thought out', Professor Chang Hsin-kang, president of City University, said the proposals outlined in it were exactly what Hong Kong needed. 'People need a good quality of life,' Professor Chang said. 'The deterioration of the environment has been a concern for thoughtful citizens for many years now. This Policy Address for the first time faces this issue and outlines a clearly-designed programme to improve the living environment with specific measures and targets.' Professor Daniel Tse Chi-wai, president of Hong Kong Baptist University, gave the speech a B plus 'for addressing long-term policy issues such as the environment, education and housing, which Hong Kong must tackle sooner or later'. He was disappointed, however, that short-term issues affecting 'the immediate livelihood of the common people' did not receive more attention. For education, Dr Tse gave Mr Tung an A minus. 'It is proper for the Chief Executive to put emphasis on education because the quality of the community is largely decided by its people. 'The general concept of education reform is right. It is the implementation of the concept that will be the crucial test,' he said. Alexander Tzang Hing-chung, vice-president (institutional advancement) at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, found the Policy Address both 'comprehensive' and 'sound'. Giving it an A minus, he said: 'We are most pleased with the vision of the future the Policy Address has provided for education, the environment, innovation and technology.' He brushed aside criticism that Mr Tung didn't sufficiently address unemployment or the economy, saying those problems had been dealt with in last year's speech. In terms of education at the primary and secondary levels, Professor Tzang thought that 'adequate emphasis' had been given with 'substantial funding and an adequate plan of action to develop young people at the pre- tertiary stage'. Turning to tertiary education, he said: 'The good news is he (Mr Tung) seems to have implied that there won't be any significant funding cuts to the tertiary sector as had been implied in the past.' Professor Tzang also praised the move to provide teenagers with training to prepare them for the workplace. Professor Ruth Hayhoe, director of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, was even more upbeat, giving the address an A. 'From our perspective we're happy to see on-going support for teacher education,' she said. Referring to the lack of specifics, Professor Hayhoe said this was to be expected, since the Education Commission was in the midst of preparing a set of recommendations for educational reform. The proposals would be ready next year, following the public consultation process. She expected the recommendations to be taken into account in next year's Policy Address. 'The feeling one gets is that there is an awareness of educa tion's role in turning Hong Kong into a world-class city, a society that is innovative and knowledge-based,' she said. Professor Hayhoe also reacted favourably to the emphasis on environmental concerns. 'It's something we put a lot of emphasis on here,' she said. 'Environmental stewardship is a key element of our Citizenship Education Centre. We want all teachers to [be involved] from the bottom up.' Professor Cheung Kwok-wai, associate dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong, gave the address a B. 'I would give him credit for attaching great importance to this round of consultation,' Professor Cheung said. 'He did say if there was a consensus on various issues, he would like to see them introduced as soon as possible. So it is up to society to tell the Government if they accept these initiatives.'