American academics are to help Hong Kong universities develop liberal arts education as they move to four-year degree courses. The US Consulate General in Hong Kong this week announced the launch of the Fulbright Hong Kong General Education Programme to help local universities. About 20 American academics will visit Hong Kong on one-year teaching grants between 2008 and 2012 where they will work with local academics to design interdisciplinary curricula and pedagogy. These would focus on broad themes of western and Asian civilisations, the consulate said. Hong Kong's seven universities and the Hong Kong Institute of Education will take part in the programme, which will be run by the Hong Kong-America Centre. The programme will be funded by the co-founder and chairman emeritus of DHL Asia-Pacific, Chung Po-yang, whose donation will be matched with grants from the University Grants Committee. The new investment will more than double the current Fulbright Programme in Hong Kong. Director of the Hong Kong-America Centre, Professor Glenn Shive, said the programme would assure Hong Kong's future competitiveness. 'As we manage this innovative Fulbright programme over the next six years, the HKAC aims to serve as a platform where professors from different campuses can share ideas and practical experiences in designing liberal arts for the Hong Kong university context,' he said. 'We hope all students grasp their unique identity as part of the east-west synthesis that is Hong Kong.' Professor Richard Ho Yan-ki, vice-president for undergraduate education at City University, said: 'The general education courses will broaden students' horizons and increase their appreciation of cultural diversity.'