President links university status to education hub The world is watching to see if Hong Kong is serious enough about education to give the Hong Kong Institute of Education university status, president Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said this week. After announcing a series of structural changes to strengthen research last week, Professor Cheung said this week the institute was ready to become a multidisciplinary education university. 'So, the question is really if Hong Kong's ready to tell the world that we've a university dedicated to education, and I think we should,' said Professor Cheung, who is also an executive councillor. 'It's really a matter of fundamental attitude and a policy matter where you want to have an education university to underscore your determination to build Hong Kong as an education hub,' he said. Rejecting criticism that the HKIEd was a monotechnic, he said in practice the institute was already a university. It focused on education, which was a field of study with multiple disciplines such as pedagogy, curriculum studies, psychology and languages. With the institute still in a stage of 'soul searching', Professor Cheung said it would have to work harder to overcome reservations about it being granted a university title. 'HKIEd needs to be more proactive to tell people what we are capable of doing,' he said. He said the HKIEd would also need to work with the administration to 'actively influence government's thinking on education policy'. Citing the 'rather positive' response from his Executive Council colleagues after they visited the institute in January, Professor Cheung said he was confident that the HKIEd would be awarded a university title. The University Grants Committee is due to make a recommendation to the government on the matter by the end of the year. 'I don't want [the UGC] to be under any political pressure,' said Professor Cheung. He said the HKIEd must gain its university title 'in the most legitimate way'. Pledging to launch a three-tier research structure within the institute and continue the global hunt for chair professors to drive academic research, he said a complete set of newly developed research strategies would be announced soon. 'We're ready, but the most important thing here is not when the government will grant us a university title,' Professor Cheung said. He said the need to expand would be there regardless of whether the HKIEd was seeking a university title. 'It would do Hong Kong and the HKIEd no good if the institute was to remain in stagnation. We'll be expanding our research strength whether we are after a university or not,' Professor Cheung said. University of Hong Kong chair professor of education Cheng Kai-ming said linking Hong Kong's seriousness into building itself as an education hub and granting the institute a university title 'could just well be HKIEd's own perception'. 'University title is not a critical issue here, the most critical issue is how HKIEd places itself on all fronts of teaching and research,' Professor Cheng said. 'It's the contribution and achievement of HKIEd [to Hong Kong] that matters.'