From visual arts to degrees in Chinese medicine, the college is moving forward with new programmes Theme: Innovation The Hong Kong Baptist University's Academy of Visual Arts, in the historic Royal Air Force Officers' Mess and Police Detective School near the old Kai Tak Airport, has studios for ceramics, computer graphics, installation art, painting, photography and sculpture. The Grade 1-listed historical building has 3,500 sqft of space with courtyards, lawns and ancient banyan trees. 'The building was constructed in the 1930s in a unique early 20th century European architectural style. Its high ceilings, spacious rooms, scenic views and surroundings are suitable for creative work and teaching visual arts,' said Chung Ling, dean of the Faculty of Arts. The academy - the first of its type in Hong Kong - admits 65 students a year and offers a Bachelor of Arts (honours) in visual arts, a field that has been largely overlooked in Hong Kong. University Grants Committee chairman Alice Lam said: 'Hong Kong and the region are crying out for designers and artists with real talent and knowledge. Students of this course will combine unique insights into Chinese and western ideas on culture with state of the art understanding of computer graphics design.' The university has launched a project to convert a vacant factory building in Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon, into the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre. Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping said: 'This is the first time Hong Kong plans to develop a vacant factory building into a creative arts centre to provide an enabling environment for the clustering of cultural and arts activities to nurture creative talent and promote closer ties between the arts and cultural creative sector and corporate investors, thereby bringing about cultural and economic benefits.' The university and a mainland institution joined hands to launch a university in Zhuhai. The Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College (UIC) has been offering five, four-year undergraduate programmes since the beginning of this academic year. Ng Ching-fai, UIC president, and president and vice-chancellor of Baptist University, said: 'As the nation's first university founded [jointly] by universities in the mainland and Hong Kong, UIC is the first of its kind and carries a significant historical mission and meaning. UIC has blended the academic and management strengths of BNU and Baptist University.' The Academy of Visual Arts, the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre and UIC are three of the most recent initiatives in a series of innovations that date to 1956, when the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong established Baptist College as a private post-secondary institution. The college, a trendsetter from the start, launched Hong Kong's first programme in social work in its first year. The government granted land for the construction of a permanent campus in Kowloon Tong's Waterloo Road the following year. The college opened a permanent campus in 1966. Hong Kong's first communications programme was launched by the institution in 1968. The 1970s were a decade of change for the college. It was recognised as Hong Kong's first approved private four-year post-secondary institution in 1970. The college made a series of major breakthroughs in the 1980s. The institution's potential to offer degree courses was confirmed by the British-based Council for National Academic Awards in 1981. It was brought under the aegis of the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee, now known as the University Grants Committee, in 1983, making it a fully funded public tertiary institution. Degree programmes were launched in 1986. Postgraduate programmes were introduced in 1989. Hong Kong's first full-time China studies degree programme was launched that year. Baptist College established Hong Kong's first humanities programme in 1990.The first full-time degree programme in recreation and sports management followed two years later. The first undergraduate programme in European studies was launched in 1994. A historic milestone was reached in the same year, with the college being renamed Hong Kong Baptist University. A second campus was opened in 1995. It also launched the first full-time, five-year double-degree programme in Chinese medicine in 1998. Baptist University kicked off the new millennium with the establishment of the city's first university-affiliated kindergarten in 2000.