Chapter 02

Enhancing learning and teaching

HKMU has a strong tradition of teaching and learning and has pioneered many new innovations in pedagogy, driven by its historical mission of 'Education for All'. The challenge it has now set itself is to take its teaching and learning capabilities and achievements to a new level. In the past year, it has launched new initiatives to reform its academic credit system, introduce new core subjects, attract high quality faculty members from around the world, and add new academic areas to its curricula.

Academic Reform to expand learning opportunities

This year, HKMU embarked on a major, university-wide Academic Reform to be launched by 2023. The reform involves transitioning all programmes offered across the University from a five-credit system to a three-credit-unit denomination framework within five years. The change is more than simply one of nomenclature. The purposes of the Academic Reform are two-fold: first, to introduce a 'University Core' requirement that will provide students with a common learning experience, and second, to align the University's course credit system with those of other local and overseas universities so that HKMU students will be using the same 'currency' in academic terms. This will facilitate the recognition of prior learning for credit transfer with other universities, and thus promote student mobility and the internationalisation of the University's student population. HKMU has also taken the opportunity to review and update its academic programmes during the process.

At the heart — new University Core modules

In 2021, HKMU began to introduce a set of University Core modules aimed at nurturing four core values in students: integrity, fairness, perseverance, and innovation. These have been designed to help students develop not simply as professionals, but as individuals with the highest standards of personal integrity and social commitment. The first module covers both personal integrity and academic integrity, reminding students of key ethical standards that need to be maintained in their personal behaviour towards others and in their own university careers. Another part of this module covers national security and students' associated responsibilities towards their country. These modules will be enriched and built up in the Academic Reform to form a mandatory University Core providing all students with a common learning experience.

Funding to raise teaching standards further

Part of HKMU's mission of enhancing its teaching quality involves attracting — and retaining — the best possible teaching staff from around the world. In a self-financing institution like HKMU, where fiscal responsibility is especially important, generating the level of funding needed to attract the best can be a challenge. Utilising internal funding set aside for Quality Enhancement Measures (QEM), the University has set up two funds to address this issue. One is the Central Faculty Fund, designed to supplement funding for non-budgeted and additional or upgraded appointments, and the other a Faculty Advancement Fund, aimed at supporting academics undertaking sabbaticals of up to 12 months for research or professional development. These funding initiatives, together with the introduction of an Annual Promotion Exercise without a fixed quota, are helping the University attract and retain quality academic staff.

Meeting medical technology demand

The arrival of COVID-19 immediately generated high demand for medical laboratory resources and the trained personnel to operate them. In line with its mission to respond to the needs of society, HKMU immediately began to look at how it could contribute to meeting this future demand. The results have been rapid. A new Master of Science in Medical Laboratory Science programme started admitting students for September 2022, while a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Medical Laboratory Science will get underway in 2023, with a first-year intake of 60 students. The Bachelor's programme has been partially supported by a HK$40 million grant from the Education Bureau's Enhancement and Start-up Grant Scheme for Self-financing Post-secondary Education. The grant shows not only the fact that the Government recognises the need for such a programme to boost medical technologist numbers, but also its confidence in HKMU's ability to develop and run it.

ALTO: altogether in advancement

Back in August 2021, the University set up the Office for Advancement of Learning and Teaching (ALTO) as one of its initiatives aimed at helping achieve academic excellence across the board. ALTO's goals are to centralise efforts and foster synergies across the University in the wider pursuit of educational excellence, and to promote student-centred learning and teaching. Over the past 12 months, the Office has thrown itself into these tasks with unbounded energy. Working with the Schools, the Human Resources Office, the Library and the Student Affairs Office, it has run a highly successful Learning and Teaching Week for staff and students.

One new initiative to encourage all-round development among students was the launch of a new Co-curricular Extracurricular Learning Toward Innovative Comprehensive Soft-skills (CELTICS) programme, which is enabling students to create their own personal e-portfolios containing details of all their learning activities at HKMU and outside it too. ALTO has also designed new student learning experience surveys which are proving exceptionally useful in understanding what students most need in order to learn well.