In the debate on whether to introduce liberal studies into the senior secondary school curriculum, psychology associate professor Albert Chau Wai-lap has a clear position: start with the primary schools. 'How can you expect students to receive traditional primary and junior secondary education, and then suddenly become liberal-minded in Form Five?' he asks. As the general education director of the University of Hong Kong, Professor Chau, 43, is immersed in making policies and educating students. After a day's work, he spends the evening talking to students about current affairs, values and their views on society in general. General education, he says, can be targeted at either broadening knowledge across the board - the narrow view - or it can be aimed at 'the development of a liberal mind'. 'The acquisition of basic knowledge, which facilitates critical thinking ... to me that is also what liberal studies is.' He says arming students with a general education is growing more critical as graduates are tending to work in different fields, and he is a prime example. Although today immersed in psychology, his first degree was in industrial engineering. 'I had seriously considered social work when I selected my major, but I chose engineering because I was not familiar with social work,' says Professor Chau. He lost interest in engineering after graduating from HKU in 1983, and spent a year earning a certificate in psychology before heading to the United States to study for his doctorate. But before leaving, he met his future wife, Ester Ng Yu-fa, now a clinical psychologist, when they took part in the university's social service group. 'We were just friends. After I studied abroad, we kept contacting each other by mail, long-distance phone calls and sending cassettes. But as we wrote, things were developing,' Professor Chau says, laughing. They decided to marry before he returned to Hong Kong in 1991, ending his five years of overseas studies. Professor Chau is also fond of talking about education in university halls, seizing every opportunity to clarify people's misunderstandings. 'Many people think that university halls are just places for non-stop activities and little sleeping. I just want to say that is not the case,' he says.