Speech by Arthur K C Li
Secretary for Education and Manpower
10 October 2005
40th anniversary celebration alumni dinner of
The University of Kent
Professor Melville, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be with you this evening, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the University of Kent .
Over the past four decades, the University of Kent has firmly established itself as one of the finest universities in the world. It has produced generations of bright scholars and outstanding community leaders, including the many of you here.
As we applaud the remarkable achievement of the University, we cannot help but ask : what has made this possible? I believe an important reason for the University’s success is its unique international character. Kent U has made it a core strategic aim to establish close ties within Europe . It also cherishes long-term relationships with other parts of the wor d, as is witnessed by its alumni and institution partners in Hong Kong . It is therefore not surprising that the University can attract the best talents from all over the world – at the moment students from over 120 countries make up 11% of the student body at Kent U.
Nowadays, with increasing globalization and the new challenges it brings, internationalization of the student body is almost essential for any mature higher education system. Kent U has demonstrated its strength in this area; Hong Kong institutions are likewise stepping up their efforts.
Internationalisation efforts in Hong Kong
H ong Kong is a cosmopolitan city which traditionally offers a diversified system of education to meet the needs of both local and international communities. Literally at the doorstep of Mainland China , we hope our unique blend of Chinese and Western cultures can provide added value to non-local students in terms of enriching their cultural experiences. We aspire not only to serve our own people, but also to be the Education Hub of the region.
For this reason the Hong Kong SAR Government strongly encourages student exchanges, and facilitates the admission of non-local students to our higher education institutions. We impose no ceiling on the number of non-local research students, and we set aside places in our publicly-funded programmes for those coming for undergraduate studies. Recently, we have further relaxed immigration control in respect of the types of institutions and programmes that can admit non-local students, notably Mainland ones. Now our publicly-funded programmes can admit non-local students up to 10% of their student numbers.
Expansion of our post-secondary education sector
One of the reasons that made possible the admission of more non-local students to our post-secondary programmes is the rapid expansion of this sector which increased significantly the institutions’ recruitment capacity. Nowadays, 66% of our secondary school leavers can have access to post-secondary education – compared to around 33% five years ago. The major driving force behind this is the introduction of Associate Degree (or AD) into Hong Kong , as a new type of sub-degree programme comparable in standard to the more traditional Higher Diploma or Professional Diploma.
If you browse the Education and Manpower Bureau’s website, you will see a full list of these courses run by 20 different service providers on a self-financing basis. All of them are quality-assured by recognized accrediting bodies. Our local universities, as well as some 150 institutions in 10 other regions or countries including the UK , accept our AD qualifications for admission to their degree courses or for credit transfer. Twenty-two professional bodies from the business, engineering, finance, accounting, IT and logistics sectors also recognize our AD qualifications for the purpose of granting exemptions from parts of their professional examinations.
While the AD equips graduates with skills that enable them to start their career as junior managers and associate professionals, naturally a lot of the graduates would like to pursue further studies. We are providing more senior year undergraduate places in government-funded institutions for their direct articulation, and the private market is doing the same. Nonetheless, for AD graduates who long for cultural exposure, overseas studies remains an attractive option. The UK universities have always been Hong Kong students’ popular choice for first degree studies, and I hope they will also be able to cater for the articulation needs of our AD graduates.
UK-Hong Kong cooperation in education
I am pleased that Hong Kong has continued to maintain a close relationship with the United Kingdom in terms of education cooperation. At the government level, the education authorities have established a regular liaison framework; and -- thanks to the Hong Kong British Council -- we have also identified scope for enhancing collaboration between institutions in the UK and those in Hong Kong. I am confident that, with the concerted efforts of the government as well as the education sector, both UK and Hong Kong will be able to reap the benefits of internationalization. In this exciting development, Kent U will no doubt continue to play a pivotal role.
Ladies and gentlemen, for a university that will last for generations, “forty years” is but a milestone, after which it will carry on striving for excellence and continue to shine. On this happy occasion, may I therefore join you all in wishing the University of Kent every success in its future endeavours.