23 November 2010 (Tuesday)
Reception “Higher Education of Hong Kong”
Opening Remarks by Mr Raymond H C Wong, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education, HKSAR
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you all for joining us in this reception on higher education in Hong Kong.
Last month, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region led a delegation to visit India. Today, I have with me representatives from eight public higher education institutions. This is by far the largest government-led delegation of education leaders to an overseas country. These visits demonstrate the importance we place on India.
Indeed, India and Hong Kong have a lot of things in common. Both of us attach great importance to education, science and technology. English is the language of education and business. We have similar legal systems, and we share common goals of openness and diversity. India and China are widely predicted to provide a twin-engine for global economic growth in the next decade. Furthermore, India and Hong Kong are well connected. Hong Kong has more than 27,000 Indians -- one of our largest non-Chinese communities. Last year, we received over 360,000 Indian visitors. There are five airlines with direct flights, and the journey between the two places has been shortened into a six-hour flight. Hong Kong is closer to India than ever.
In the education front, we would like to develop broader and deeper collaboration with India with a view to achieving win-win for both sides. To face the challenges of globalisation and knowledge economy, we have no choice but to build stronger partnerships to increase our talent pool. We look to India as our strategic partner and Hong Kong has a lot of things to offer.
It is our aspiration to develop Hong Kong as a regional education hub. By education hub, we intend to develop the most internationalised and diversified higher education sector in the region. We welcome more international students, more exchanges of students and faculty members, more collaboration in teaching and research, and more strategic alliance at the regional and international levels.
Hong Kong not only enjoys a reputation as an international business and financial centre, our city is also China's most important centre for global finance. Hong Kong is a place where East meets West. Our institutions teach in English but also offer a rich Chinese language and cultural environment for students. We are a modern city with a diverse cultural blend of East and West located at a prominent position in the heart of East Asia. Students from different parts of the world find it relatively easy to adapt to our academic environment.
Hong Kong is the most internationalised city in China. Students – particularly business students – are keen to take advantage of our proximity to, and integration with, markets in the Mainland of China which is the world’s fastest growing large economy. Hong Kong companies have close business relationships with Mainland firms, particularly in the adjacent Pearl River Delta region. Hong Kong’s geographical proximity to Mainland China and our deep understanding of the Mainland market and business culture are essential to our success.
Hong Kong has world-class higher education institutions. In fact, two of our institutions were ranked among the top 50 institutions in the world by the Times Higher Education Supplement in 2010. Three of our institutions were ranked among the top five in the 2010 QS Asian University Rankings. We also hosted the world’s number one EMBA programme in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Our institutions recruit internationally and adopt best international practices in curriculum design and quality assurance.
The Hong Kong SAR Government has implemented a series of measures to support the development of our city into a regional education hub. We have established a government scholarship fund with HK$1 billion (or US$128 million) and provide a scholarship of HK$80,000 (US$10,300) a year for international students. We have also introduced a PhD Fellowship Scheme to attract the brightest around the world to pursue PhD studies. Each fellow receives an annual stipend of around HK$240,000 (or US$30,800). We are pleased that we have received applications from over 100 economies. It is worth noting that there are no strings attached to these scholarships and fellowships. Students may choose to stay in Hong Kong or return to their country of origin upon graduation. That said, we have also relaxed our immigration and employment restrictions. International students can work part time during their studies and after graduation, they are given 12 months to look for a job in Hong Kong. With over 3 500 overseas companies having their Asia-Pacific operations in Hong Kong, we offer immense opportunities for international students. This year, we have awarded PhD fellowships to 2 students from India. Seems like there is plenty of room for growth.
To meet the challenge of the 21st century, we are now implementing a new academic structure focusing on more broad-based curriculum and whole person development. Our universities are currently going through a curriculum reform to implement a four-year undergraduate structure from 2012 onwards. The reform will give our universities more time and space to provide a broader and more diversified learning experience.
Professor Tony Chan will address you in a moment and share with you more on the exciting education opportunities that Hong Kong offers. You may also find out more on what Hong Kong is doing in the higher education arena from our institutions’ representatives who are here today.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am confident that closer collaboration in education between Hong Kong and India will benefit both our economies in this new global economic climate.
I thank you once again for your hospitality and I welcome you all to visit Hong Kong in the near future. Thank you.