Dear students, colleagues, alumni and friends,
This afternoon Dr Albert Chau (Dean of Student Affairs) and I met with students from HKUSU and other student societies for a constructive dialogue lasting roughly an hour and a half. I’m very grateful to our students for their input to the discussion. I’m writing now to share with you some remarks I made at the start of the meeting:
“I’d like to begin by expressing my sincere thanks to HKUSU and other students from across the campus for agreeing to meet with Albert and me this afternoon to continue the conversation we had at the High Table Dinner on Friday evening. There are two key points I wish to make upfront:
First, I apologize unreservedly for my remark indicating that if students do not wish to go to China they should not come to HKU. This was clumsy and misleading. I now formally retract this statement.
My intention was to say something much more positive. On the one hand, we believe our students should be given opportunities to undertake a wide variety of learning opportunities outside Hong Kong – we are strongly committed to enhancing international student mobility. On the other, we recognize that all students have choices, and we want the choices offered by HKU to be as widely known and transparent as possible. Our overall aim is for students to have a very clear sense of the learning pathways available to them here at HKU.
Second, on February 3, the University Senate endorsed an Academic Development Proposal (ADP) for 2016-19. It had already been discussed and endorsed by all 10 Faculty Boards. Our ADP sets out an ambitious vision for the future defined by three core commitments to internationalization, innovation, and impact.
Under the internationalization pillar, HKU undertakes by 2022 to provide 100% of undergraduate students with the opportunity to have both an overseas and a China learning experience. This is an overarching aim to which the University is committed. I’d like to stress that the focus is on opening up a wealth of non-local learning experiences. Nothing in the ADP requires students to undertake an exchange programme either overseas or in China. Rather, we’re building a wide array of learning experiences: exchange, yes, but also experiential learning, service learning, internships, research attachments, and so on.
Driving this commitment is our belief that to be globally competitive all of our students should have the chance to develop a global mindset plus knowledge of China. The 100% commitment is for the University to open up quality learning opportunities overseas and in China for all of our undergraduate students. The ADP does not state that these learning experiences are mandatory for students. In working out the details of a concrete plan over the next 5-10 years, we are keen to work as closely as possible with students in all Faculties and Departments.”
I look forward to moving forward in partnership with all of you in the months and years ahead.
Best wishes, Ian
Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning)
The University of Hong Kong