I am honoured to contribute to the University's Annual Review for the first time. Let me begin by saying something about my impressions of the University, after six months as President here. First, what has impressed me has been the pragmatism of the University, both as an institution and as a quality of the individuals who serve it. People here are practical and down-to-earth; they are prepared to make things happen. At the same time, I have observed a deep dedication and commitment to the University's best interests among management and staff. In my view, this combination of pragmatic determination and dedicated service is an ideal foundation for what we are trying to achieve here, and I would like to thank my predecessors for the excellent foundation they have laid. They have truly helped to shape an excellent university spirit.


This year, the University has rebranded itself under a new name, a process that started before I arrived but which has come to fruition in recent months. By embracing the name 'Metropolitan University', we have laid out our aspirations and also challenged ourselves to live up to them. Of course, aspirations do not become realities overnight. There will be a process of adjustment and learning as we get used to thinking of ourselves in a new light, and expand our activities in new directions. But I believe we have already made an excellent start over the past year, as this Annual Review makes very clear.

An immediate goal of ours is to ensure that our students and graduates are proud to be associated with the Metropolitan University name. To do that, we need to do at least three things. One is to provide a first-rate education that gives students the knowledge they need to approach the future with confidence. The second is to help them find good jobs and shape meaningful careers, as they build on the quality education they have received. And the third is to instil a community-mindedness in our students, so they recognize their responsibilities to the society that has nurtured them.


In the past year, we have launched or planned many new initiatives to achieve these outcomes. As described in this Annual Review, we have established ALTO (the Office for Advancement of Learning and Teaching), a new set-up that is centralizing our efforts to enhance learning and teaching across the university. Right now, we are working on new student e-portfolios that keep track of each student's personal and professional growth by recording details of all the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities they take part in. A new student learning experience questionnaire is giving us important insights into how students learn best and hence how we can improve; similarly, we have revamped our existing graduates' employment survey so that it provides feedback to help us make our academic programmes more relevant.


To give our students a sharper competitive edge in the job market, we are launching several initiatives. For example, we have just set up a new CEO mentorship programme in collaboration with the Hong Kong Young Industrialists Council that will give students valuable project-based placements. A special Entrepreneurship Month is also under planning to help students develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

We have been equally proactive in encouraging social engagement and interaction. Our new Campus Life Enhancement Fund is providing motivation and funding for students to get involved in making things happen in the student community and beyond, and we have been busy developing and promoting service-learning opportunities for students. The University's sports profile is also on the rise, with more sports activities than ever before being offered on campus and at nearby venues. Recent highlights have included intervarsity 3-on-3 basketball competitions and new training courses on coaching swimming and football.

Amid all this, our traditional mission of providing open and distance learning remains very important to us. Recently, we have taken steps to integrate that mission more closely into the University's overall management structure. A new School of Open Learning that works in parallel with our other Schools was set up on 1 September, with its own Dean giving it official representation at management level.

Under our new name, we do expect to see an uptick in the volume and quality of the University's research output over time. The key here is to keep our research initiatives practical and highly focused so that they are as impactful as possible. We have set up a new Research Impact Fund to help this happen, and by now each School has identified one or two strategic research areas to pursue, based on work they are currently engaged in and needs identified in our wider society.

There is no doubt that Hong Kong has faced many difficult challenges over the past couple of years. There is also no doubt in my mind that our University is becoming an ever more vital link in addressing and helping to solve these challenges — as part of our involvement in, and commitment to, the 'metropolis' of Hong Kong. In line with Government policy, we are looking to play an increasingly active part in cultivating talent to serve Hong Kong and the wider metropolitan Greater Bay Area of which our city is an integral part. Indeed, once our HKMU (Zhaoqing) offshoot becomes operational, Hong Kong students will be able to easily experience living and working on the mainland and explore opportunities for advancement there. I very much look forward to seeing these new directions of ours come to fruition soon.

Paul Lam Kwan-sing
September 2021