By leveraging its advantages as a young, energetic and compact university, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) will use new ideas to prepare for the four-year undergraduate curriculum in 2012. Wei Shyy, the university's new provost, says the university will develop more cross-school offerings to prepare students for the real interdisciplinary world and enhance their employability. It has 15 minor and one dual-degree programme. With the implementation of the four-year undergraduate programme, HKUST will introduce up to five additional minors. A comprehensive core curriculum will be introduced. It will encompass arts and humanities, analysis of society, science and technology, logical thinking, English and Chinese communication, and healthy living. A school-based admission programme will be implemented. The four-year curriculum will provide greater flexibility to students. First-year students will not need to make a decision on their majors and minors until they have spent one year acquiring an in-depth understanding of the programmes and their interests. The university aims to offer students unique opportunities for holistic education characterised by its breadth and depth. It is expected to equip students with the essential skills for lifelong learning. Through a wide range of student-oriented training and development programmes, community services, internships, mentoring opportunities and overseas exchanges, HKUST encourages students to broaden their horizons and cultivate an international outlook. Shyy says the university's goal is that every student will have the opportunity to go on overseas exchanges. HKUST will continue to drive collaboration in interdisciplinary research and leverage its strength of science and technology, and business knowledge so that its graduates will be equipped with specialised technological knowledge and excellent business expertise. To enrich students' experience of living and learning on campus, HKUST has initiated nine Living Learning Communities for one of its student dormitory buildings on campus. Each student-initiated community occupies one floor and is devoted to the pursuit of interests and awareness-promotion for global issues, including performing arts, sports and green living. The communities organise a broad range of activities under the guidance of fellows, who are professors of the university. The university encourages its students to develop a sense of belonging. 'New students' halls, on and off campus, are under construction and the target is to increase the number of places to 6,600 from the present 4,000. HKUST aims to provide accommodation for all freshmen within the next few years,' Shyy says. Under its pioneering Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), introduced in 2005, HKUST aims to develop a research culture at undergraduate level by giving students opportunities to work closely with faculty members and to take part in research, academic and creative activities. Students conduct research projects under the supervision of faculty advisers and receive a credit or stipend on completion of the project. In the past, students could only participate in UROP in the summer, but now they have the option to extend the projects into the autumn semester with their supervisor's consent. A new UROP will be introduced in which students can enrol once in the summer and earn the stipend. Those who are committed to research may choose to participate in the new scheme, which features three levels of courses - UROP 110, 120 and 130 - with one credit for each course offered in every semester. They will work with the same project supervisor for three semesters. 'Young people should have an inquisitive mind and be receptive to new things to grow and develop into well-rounded individuals. Academic performance should not be the only goal. The four years of undergraduate study is a prime time in life. University students enjoy freedom as adults, but do not yet have the full responsibilities of adulthood. One should make the best use of all resources and support available to explore as widely as possible,' Shyy says.