HKUST hosts high-profile inaugural Asia Higher Education Universities Summit
Jointly presented by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Times Higher Education, the Asia Universities Summit, which takes place on 20 and 21 June, will be the first time the influential event will be held in Asia.
HKUST president, Professor Tony F Chan says coinciding with HKUST’s 25th Anniversary year, the University is pleased to partner with Times Higher Education to host the Asia Universities Summit, which will provide a prime opportunity to share best global practices including the different ways to nurture talent and instill creative spirit.
During two days of presentations, some 30 university presidents from 15 countries and cities from around the globe will provide expert insights on a number of key issues including various challenges facing higher education and research. In addition to presidents of the top universities, other luminaries who will be speaking at the summit include Nicholas W Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the Hong Kong SAR Government; Wei Yang, President of the National Natural Science Foundation of China; France A Córdova, Director of National Science Foundation of the United States; and Chuanzhi Liu, Chairman of the Board of Legend Holdings Corporation and Founder of Lenovo Group Limited..
Drawing attention to the fact that it is rare to have so many university presidents speaking at one event, Chan says the summit will provide a prime opportunity for participants to meet in an international East meets West environment, where HKUST is located at the centre of one of the most dynamic regions in Asia.
Widely recognised as a pioneering research university and respected for its interdisciplinary studies, the president says over the past 25 years, from day one HKUST has had a clear mission and vision to create an environment and breeding ground where knowledge and innovation can thrive. HKUST graduates ranked 14th in the world in 2015 in a global survey on employability of graduates involving 4,500 recruiters and executives from 20 countries. In 2016, HKUST is ranked number 3 in the world’s top 150 Universities Under 50 by Times Higher Education. Chan says it is important to appreciate that it takes more than rankings for a university to gain recognition among its peers and the wider community. ‘Although we are a young university, our emphasis on internationalisation and integration of students from different backgrounds through exchange programmes extends across more the 200 leading universities around the world,’ says Chan. Annually, more than 50 per cent of HKUST students spend at least a semester overseas at a partner university. In pursuit of academic excellence and international outlook, HKUST has a multi-nationality faculty, diverse student mix, strong ties to global institutions in addition to wide-ranging connections with mainland China.
With creativity and innovation constantly being cited as the cornerstones of generating economic and social value, Chan says the challenge for HKUST is to provide a framework where students and faculty can explore their creativity and innovative potential. ‘Creativity cannot be taught and innovation cannot be legislated,’ notes Chan who says without overlooking Hong Kong’s many competencies in financial and professional services - as a community, Hong Kong could benefit from a change in its cultural mindset where people are more willing to try new things. Meanwhile, Chan says HKUST would continue offering a balanced environment where creativity and innovation are encouraged without losing sight of the University’s mission to create basic knowledge and prepare students to become great global citizens and leaders of society who can make a contribution anywhere in the world.
At the same time Chan believes Hong Kong has a number of intrinsic advantages that include being a gateway to mainland China and a melting pot of different cultures. ‘Hong Kong, with its unique qualities including rule of law, low tax system, free flow of information, a skilled bilingual workforce and its world-class infrastructure, is the best breeding ground for knowledge, and Hong Kong will continue to play a significant role in advancing the region’s science and technology development,’’ says Chan.
Describing Hong Kong as the ‘perfect location’ to stage the summit and HKUST as being ‘incredibly dynamic and ambitious’, Phil Baty, Times Higher Education World University Rankings editor says during 20 years of experience working in global higher education, the Asia Universities Summit ranks as the most prestigious gathering of university leaders in the world.
‘With an outstanding concentration of talent and a wonderful tradition of mixing western education with the excitement and potential that Asian education is able to offer, Hong Kong is the perfect location for our first ever Asian summit, which is truly a global gathering,’ notes Baty. He adds that HKUST is the ideal host for the summit because it represents the epitome of excellence that Times Higher Education looks to celebrate and share through its global summits. ‘HKUST presents a case study to the world,’ says Baty. ‘HKUST’s achievements over the last 25 years have been outstanding and act as an example of how, with the right vision, the right leadership and the right will, excellence can be delivered in a very short space of time,’ Baty says. HKUST’s international reputation for solid academic research across all disciplines and specialist areas is another good example of the University’s achievements.
During the summit, university presidents, top business leaders, and government officials responsible for education, science and technology, examine how 21st century universities can provide the type of education that nurtures creative and innovative talent. ‘The way Asian universities can nurture creativity and innovation is among the most important topics at the moment,’ Baty says. It is worth noting the Asia Universities Summit is taking place at a time when focus is being placed on the repositioning of higher education influences from the West to the East. Baty views the repositioning as a positive development for the higher education environment and the business and social landscapes where the leading Asian universities are located. ‘This is an exciting time in the world of higher education because we are seeing mobility and circulation of talent, including faculty and students, which has led to an increase in international research collaborations and knowledge sharing,’ notes Baty.