Chapter 01

Setting the scene for a new era

Universities are always undergoing change, but the year 2021–22 has seen Hong Kong Metropolitan University undertake some of the most ambitious and furthest-reaching changes in its 33-year history. This chapter highlights some of the bold initiatives of the year under review that are redefining the role and direction of HKMU, further raising its reputation, and establishing it as a major contributor to the future prosperity of Hong Kong and the wider region.

Launch of HKMU

A landmark in the University's transformation was its renaming. After decades of being known as The Open University of Hong Kong, the decision was made in 2020–21 to give the University a new title and a new image. The story of the search for a new name was reported in last year's Annual Review; that process was officially confirmed in the retitling ceremony that took place on 1 September 2021, when current and former leaders of the University came together for the historic occasion.

The University's new name captures many facets of its aspirations and ambitions, both in terms of maintaining its traditional strengths and gesturing towards its goal of further expanding its contributions to society. Just as 'metropolitan' connotes all the vibrancy and diversity of modern cities, so the University is embracing a broader and more flexible identity that encompasses multiple education modes. In a nutshell, HKMU is positioning itself as an integral part of the future of the city and its surrounding region.

The University's new logo encapsulates similar ideas, with its juxtaposition of 'M' and 'U' symbolising the connectivity between 'me' — HKMU students — and 'you' — the society of which they form a part. In this it reflects a determined focus on community engagement and social commitment that lies at the heart of its new identity. That shows itself in its pragmatic focus on creating outcomes for social good, its efforts to help students build meaningful careers that make a difference to society, and its determination to help students become good citizens.

'Education for All' remains a touchstone

The University's open and distance-learning programmes have played a vital role in nurturing talent for Hong Kong for over three decades. To strengthen its unique role as the city's leading open learning provider, on 1 September 2021 HKMU established a new School of Open Learning (SOL), giving its work in open and distance learning an equal status with that of its six other Schools. Holding fast to HKMU's founding mission of 'Education for All', SOL coordinates all the distance-learning and part-time programmes leading to undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications awarded by the University. Since its establishment, the links between SOL and the rest of the University have been bolstered with the appointment of nine 'SOLmates', tasked with coordinating and supporting programmes delivered in distance-learning and part-time mode. In August 2022, SOL celebrated its first anniversary in a special milestone ceremony for HKMU.

SOL also runs IROPINE, the Institute for Research in Open and Innovative Education. The Institute represents the solid research basis underpinning HKMU's open learning success. One hallmark event hosted by IROPINE is the International Conference on Open and Innovative Education, held annually to facilitate institutional collaboration and exchanges on open and innovative education.

Major Academic Reform underway

During the year, the University announced a major curriculum reform that will affect the way it teaches and its students learn. The Academic Reform, to be launched by 2023, will see HKMU's longstanding five-credit system being gradually replaced with a three-credit-unit system that aligns with local and overseas standards. As part of the reform, the University has set about introducing a set of 'University Core' modules that will help students become better professionals and better citizens. More details can be found in Chapter 2.

New directions and new subsidiaries

As well as continuing with and expanding its existing range of teaching and learning activities, the University has launched some brand-new initiatives designed to break new ground and further widen the impact it has on society. In the year it laid the groundwork for the establishment of three new subsidiaries, each tasked with developing HKMU's profile in a key area.

One of these areas is research and knowledge transfer. As HKMU expands its research profile into many new and highly practical fields, it is important that its best research initiatives have the opportunity to actually be applied for good social and economic outcomes. To facilitate this process, the University has set up a new company — HKMU Research Development and Consultancy Limited — dedicated to handling research commercialisation, patent management, start-up investment and product licensing. The aim is to see HKMU research advances swiftly applied in the real world, in ways that make businesses flourish and people's lives better.

The second subsidiary being set up is HKMU Physiotherapy Centre Limited, responsible for running a physiotherapy clinic to be located on the Jockey Club campus. This represents a further step forward for HKMU in the field of physiotherapy education, supplementing the Bachelor's Degree programme that it has run for the past couple of years. The clinic will be an ancillary teaching and learning facility for the Department of Physiotherapy, but much more besides, acting as a practical clinic for HKMU members and the wider community.

HKMU has always had a strong alumni base, but as it moves forward, alumni support will become more important than ever. Recognising this, the University is centralising the management of its various existing alumni groups by setting up Hong Kong Metropolitan University Alumni Association Limited (HKMUAA). This, the third subsidiary to be set up, will work as an umbrella organisation for the many existing alumni societies, helping to foster stronger alumni relations and provide alumni with more services. A new alumni proof system will also be established, streamlining the process by which alumni can connect with each other and gain access to HKMU resources.

HKMU has also announced a bold move in terms of its spatial arrangements, freeing up campus spaces for teaching, learning and research activities by moving a number of its administrative offices to an off-site commercial building.

New Council Chairman

New Council Chairman Ir Dr Conrad Wong Tin-cheung took over from Mr Michael Wong Yick-kam on 20 June 2022, and will occupy the post for three years. Dr Wong is no stranger to the Council, having served as Deputy Chairman since 2019. Building on the solid base laid by his predecessor, Dr Wong has been busy developing his own vision that will address challenges such as the decline in student numbers across Hong Kong. Among the strategic priorities he is ready to implement are plans to establish more connections with industry, boost student internships, give students opportunities to pursue their dreams with an entrepreneurial fund, and expand the programmes offered by HKMU to groups such as parents and prison inmates.

A new HKMU motto

Accompanying the new title of the University is a new motto, which captures in a few words some of HKMU's most profound aspirations. The Chinese motto, approved on 16 June 2022, is 勵學致遠 敬慎日新, which loosely translates as 'Transcendence through Erudition and Renewal'. The first half of the motto is focused on education and its benefits, emphasising the value of learning and the distance it can take individuals and society. The second half concerns the personal qualities of character, including diligence and respect, that are developed by the education process. The motto thus picks up on the University's mission of both providing students with quality education and also working with them to enhance not only their knowledge but their character and social commitment.