Management Review of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Progress Report - August 2001
- The University Grants Committee (UGC) conducted a Management Review of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) on 13 and 14 April 1999. The key findings and recommendations of the Review Panel were presented in the final report as of August 1999.
- As requested, the following progress report is now submitting to the UGC, two years after the PolyU received the final report.
- This progress report outlines the progress and improvements made in the PolyU over the past two years in the light of the recommendations given by the Review Panel, and is presented under the same six areas commented on in the final report.
- During the period October 2000 to February 2001, the Strategic Planning Committee of the University revisited the Provisional Strategic Plan for 2001-07 to take into consideration of the most recent local and global developments, making particular reference tot he Education Reform initiatives and other strategic directions for the HKSAR Government as stated in the most recent Policy Statement of the Chief Executive. The final version of the Strategic Plan 2001-07, as endorsed by the Senate and Council and issued to all staff and the Student Union, is now in full operation since 1 July 2001.
- Seven focussed strategic objectives are identified in the plan. Each strategic action supporting the respective objective has been assigned to a member of senior management who, as owner of the action, will be responsible for the implementation of the action and to submit periodical progress reports to the Strategic Planning Committee and the Senior Management Committee. All departments, both academic and non-academic, are required to align their annual business plan with the Strategic Plan.
- The PolyU has aimed to provide professional, yet broad-based, education to students according to their interests, which is in line with one of the strategic objectives of the University to enhance the all-round development of students. In order to achieve this goal and objective and to provide more genuine choices to students, the University has adopted the credit-based system for its academic programmes giving students the options to select minor concentrations. This concept has been clearly communicated to all departments, which took on board the responsibility of revising the curriculum structure of their academic programmes accordingly and progressively to meet the strategic goal and objective of the University.
- With the adoption of the flexible credit-based system, resource allocation to departments could not be based on student numbers allocated for academic programmes. We are actively considering a revised model that is based on the number of subjects on offer and the number of students registered on the subjects. In addition, allocation is made on considerations for good performance, hardship endured for the purpose of catering for changes caused by various situations. To ensure that resource allocation is pragmatic and fair, and to cater for the needs of the flexible credit-based system, adjustments and changes are made to the resource allocation model whenever necessary.
- The PolyU's annual Quality Assurance (QA) report system has been refined in the year 2000, to make it less paper intensive. It has now been merged with the Business Plan exercise, which includes departments' estimated resource requirements for the next three years. The merging has resulted in the streamlining of the process, as well as ensuring that the QA Report would be properly focussed towards the future directions and improvements of a department, rather than simply reflecting on past performance and deficiencies. In the QA Report, departments are required to give, in particular, a self-evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and productively of their operations, so as to demonstrate that the departments and budget holders have developed increased impetus in seeking to achieve value for money.
Implementation of Plans
- In order to ensure that the agreed plans are well implemented, monitored and evaluated, there are two QA Committees established in the PolyU, one for academic departments and the other for non-academic departments. There is shared membership between the two QA Committees to ensure effective and efficient communication.
- The Departmental Assessment (DA) system has also been firmly established as a major instrument of quality assurance in the University, and by the end of the 2000/01 academic year, all teaching units (with the exception of the General Education Centre) and the majority of non-academic departments have undergone at least one round of DA exercise. The QA Committee (Academic Departments), in overseeing the implementation of the system in academic departments, continued to refine the operational procedures, in particular:
- efforts have been made to facilitate full and positive contributions made by panel members external to the University (including overseas scholars and practitioners of relevant professions in the local community);
- Deans have been given a specific and well-defined role, to ensure that the assessment panel's recommendations and the action plans drawn up by the assessed departments would be well followed through; and
- to ensure that the outcome of various DA exercises would result in a general enhancement of teaching quality in the University, departments are required to list their good practices in teaching and share them with other departments through the Staff Intranet.
- Supplementing the QA system, members of the Senior Management Committee, as part of their executive responsibilities, regularly monitor and assess the performance of departments under their purview, based on established Performance Indicators (PIs). It is hoped that this would give a further stimulus to departments to make further improvements.
- Apart from developing PIs at the departmental level, the PolyU has continued to use other PIs to gauge the teaching quality at both programme and staff levels. The Academic Planning Committee has recently refined the PIs for academic programmes, to bring them more in line with the current academic profile. Likewise the Student Feedback Questionnaires (SFQ), which have been used for several years as a means to gauge the teaching quality of staff, are now Faculty-based, so that they can address more directly and concisely the teaching/learning problems and constraints of particular disciplines and professions.
- The overall Management and Administrative Process Re-engineering (MAPR) exercise is the responsibility of the Management Upgrade Task Force. In order to ensure a strong linkage between related initiatives in the QA report system and the MAPR exercise, shared membership among the two QA Committees and the Management Upgrade Committee is established. Any major changes recommended as a result of MAPR, such as departmental re-structuring, etc. would be considered and thoroughly discussed by the Senior Management Committee prior to implementation.
Roles, Responsibility and Training
- The PolyU has taken active measures in ensuring accountability and distribution of responsibilities of all staff. Apart from performance assessments described in the above for departments and Heads of Departments, the President of the University had also undergone a comprehensive, 360-degree performance review on himself, by a President's Performance Review Committee appointed by the Council Chairman at the suggestion of the President.
- This formal review covered the President's performance during his 10-year service with the PolyU since 1991. It consisted of 12 important areas, namely planning and management, academic development, research development, quality assurance, internal communication, staff development, student development, professional and continuing education development, campus development, business and industrial partnership, alumni development, and resource development, as well as his plan for future development of the University.
- The outcome of the review was very positive and encouraging. In addition to indicating the President's outstanding performance, it also provided many useful comments and suggestions which were passed to the Council and the President for their reference.
- With regard to the progress of training and performance appraisal, both the staff appraisal system and the staff development system are constantly reviewed and improved. Our staff appraisal system is being simplified and streamlined for the purpose of time-saving and better effectiveness. There are now stronger links built into the revised appraisal system between the outcome of appraisal process and the identification of training needs, and between performance and pay. The University's Strategic Plan puts much emphasis on management upgrade and leadership development. A number of high level management and leadership training and development programme will be conducted for the purpose of developing middle and senior management leaders, as part of our efforts to build a 'leadership engine' in the University so as to sustain long-term development.
- The Phase I of the MAPR exercise, covering Academic Secretariat, Human Resources Office, Finance Office, Information Technology Services Office, was conducted a few years ago. The resulting manpower saving of these four departments are now being re-deployed to support new value-added initiatives and services.
- The first stage of Phase II of the MAPR exercise includes the Library, Communications and Public Affairs Office, Student Affairs Office, Industrial Centre and Estates Office. Second stage exercise will soon be concluded in the Student Affairs Office and the Industrial Centre.
- The Deputy President and the Vice President (Academic Development) are actively formulating a new approach to conduct an "Academic Visioning" exercise in the University for the purpose of re-positioning and further improving our academic activities so that they can be at par with leading universities in the world while meeting the needs of Hong Kong SAR, China and the region. The ultimate aim of the exercise is to achieve the best quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness in service provided by the academic departments. This will be a major undertaking and the University may apply for special funding from the UGC for such exercise.
Management Information and Systems
- The institute-wide IT strategy was developed in 1999 and major system developments such as student registration over web, web-enquiry on time-tabling information, interactive voice response systems, payroll and benefits system, inventory management system, etc. were implemented during the past 2 years. The PolyU also deployed a number of new technologies including web kiosk, web mail, e-banking, e-mail enabled administrative system and document imaging system. All these technologies aim to improve communication and the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the University administration.
- For the purposes of streamlining the collection and maintenance of management data of academic activities and to provide greater convenience to retrieve accurate and up-to-date data for planning, budgeting, admission, registration and examination purposes, the PolyU has started implementing a centralized and comprehensive data warehouse for all academic programmes.
- Academic departments and supporting offices would input into the centralized data warehouse the academic programme data such as student numbers, subject curriculum data, teaching arrangement data, staff and space requirement data, planning and financial parameters, as and when the programmes are being planned. Based on the development of the programmes, such data would be updated accordingly to truly reflect their present status.
- The PolyU has also decided to adopt a centralized approach in class timetabling. Through the use of a scheduling software system, and based on information in the student registration system, a clash-free class timetable can be produced, which would also help to maximize the use of space resources.