MU Connect issue 7 (page 06 to 07)

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HKMU becomes Hong Kong's first University of Applied Sciences

HKMU received approval from the Education Bureau to become Hong Kong's first University of Applied Sciences (UAS). The news was announced by Secretary for Education Dr Choi Yuk-lin (pictured third from right) at an establishment ceremony on 21 March. Other officiating guests included Permanent Secretary for Education Michelle Li Mei-sheung (pictured third from left), Hong Kong Council for Accreditation for Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) Council Chairman Hon Rock Chen Chung-nin (pictured second from right) and HKCAAVQ Executive Director Albert Chow Hing-pong (pictured far right).

In its Policy Address last year, the Government proposed establishing UASs in Hong Kong as a means of raising the status of vocational and professional education and training (VPET). The concept of UAS immediately resonated with HKMU, whose programmes demonstrate a strong professional, practical orientation, and the University submitted an application to the Education Bureau duly.

What exactly are UASs?

UASs work closely with professional sectors to offer applied degrees that integrate theory and practical training. The figure below compares UASs and traditional universities:


Blend theory with practice

Industry-driven to equip students for the workplace

Focus on applied research

Offer more internships and practical learning opportunities

Traditional academic/research universities

Focus on academic training and/or research

Emphasise academic achievements and exchanges

Focus on blue skies research

Offer fewer or shorter internships in the workplace

UASs are already well-developed in many European countries. The sizeable ones are known not just for their science and engineering programmes, but also a wide range of relevant professional programmes, including business, psychology and education.

HKMU's strengths

The Education Bureau appointed the HKCAAVQ as a consultant to map out the criteria for qualifying as a UAS. A UAS is expected to have a university title and be qualified to offer programmes pitched at Levels 5 to 7 under the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework. It should also demonstrate a vision of, a commitment to, as well as the capabilities and experience of providing high-level VPET programmes that blend theory and practice, while enjoying industry recognition and support.

HKMU was confirmed by the Government as meeting all requirements for becoming a UAS in terms of governance, management, quality assurance, learning environment and learner support, as well as industry collaboration and recognition. As the only self-financing university in Hong Kong granted self-accrediting status, HKMU has the flexibility to offer quality professional programmes as society sees fit. Two of our recent programmes offered — the Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours in Integrated Testing, Inspection and Certification and the Bachelor of Business Administration with Honour in Sports and Recreation Management — have been included in the Pilot Project on the Development of Applied Degree Programmes. In terms of industry connections, we have involved professional representatives in curriculum design and secured internships and work-based learning opportunities for our students. We have also implemented outcome-based learning across the board, and have been actively expanding our campuses to optimise students' learning environment.

Spearheading the formation of the Alliance of UASs

The Government has set aside a HK$100 million start-up fund to support self-financing, post-secondary institutions in forming the Alliance of Universities in Applied Sciences. President Prof. Paul Lam Kwan-sing says that HKMU is pleased to spearhead the formation of the Alliance. Working closely with the Government, the University will spend the money on driving publicity campaigns, organising international conferences and fostering exchange and collaboration with UASs in the mainland and overseas.