The Review 2009

2 The Review 2009 • Vice-Chancellor’s Message 3 The Review 2009 • Vice-Chancellor’s Message The Vice-Chancellor’s Message Internationalisation In today’s globalised world, universities need a high degree of connectivity, engagement and diversity to be able to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society. With that in mind, the University recruits staff and students from all over the world to study, teach and research at HKU. We provide them with opportunities to share their academic curiosity and their desire to explore the world, with the expectation that these encounters will broaden minds and plant seeds for new ideas. Our success at creating diversity on campus can be seen at Sun Yat Sen Square at the end of each teaching day, when students of dozens of nationalities converge to meet friends or pause on their way to the library. About 3,000 non-local students were admitted to our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2008-09 and more than 900 exchange students visited. We also sent about 850 of our students on exchanges overseas and to Mainland China. There is educational value in this because students gain a better understanding of the world by interacting with people from other cultures. We have thus incorporated intercultural understanding and global citizenship into the learning aims of the new four- year curriculum, which comes into effect in 2012. Internationalisation also encourages benchmarking against global standards of excellence and enables us to attract leading scholars from around the world. Our successes are reflected in our impressive track record in attracting peer-reviewed research funding, and in our research output. We consistently receive the lion’s share of the Research Grants Council’s General Research Fund and the University Grants Committee’s Area of Excellence Awards, totalling $413.8 million for the 2009-10 academic year. Moreover, 100 of our scientists are ranked among the top one per cent in their fields by the Institute for Scientific Information. Regional engagement Apart from taking an ‘international’ view of our work, we also recognise the importance of regional engagement. One of our strengths is our position at the gateway to Mainland China and our close academic connections with colleagues across the border. Our new vision statement, developed under the Strategic Development Plan for 2009-2014, recognises that our aspirations are not confined by geography and that we want to contribute “to the advancement of society and the development of leaders through a global presence, regional significance and engagement with the rest of China”. With that in mind, the University has entered into discussions with the Mainland authorities on several groundbreaking initiatives in Shenzhen. The scope of these negotiations is wide and complex, and I hope we will be able to make some announcements in the coming year. Our efforts to broaden our impact are underscored by two realities: finances and quality assurance. The financial year covered in this report straddles the financial tsunami and we have seen phenomenal challenges in our investment returns and fundraising initiatives. I am pleased to report that our investment performance had largely recovered by the time this report was written, thanks to the hard work of the Council’s Investment Sub- Committee and our colleagues at the University. Quality enhancement Quality assurance is more vital than ever given the many changes underway on campus. The University welcomed the findings of the Quality Assurance Council’s Audit Panel in 2009 that commended the high quality of the learning experiences and support that we offer students. The report recognised our strengths and our strong commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. In the spirit of continuous quality enhancement, HKU has identified areas for further improvement and has in fact already set in train initiatives suggested by the Audit Panel. Most encouragingly, the panel praised the way we have embraced the opportunity of the new curriculum and the audit self-review, and concluded that we are well placed to manage the changes ahead. The high quality of our academic activities and our internationalisation are key reasons why HKU is ranked among the top universities in the world (24th according to the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings 2009 ). Rankings in themselves are not complete measures of a university’s worth, but they can help to serve as a goal or benchmark. In this respect I would like to thank the outgoing Council Chairman Dr Victor Fung, who eight years ago set out a vision of excellence and engagement with the world that has helped to guide us to our present success, and will carry us through under his successor, Dr Leong Che-hung, well past our centenary. Professor Lap-Chee Tsui Vice-Chancellor and President December 2009