Council Chairman, graduates, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for your presence at the 27th Congregation of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. It is a great pleasure to have all of you here to observe the academic tradition of presenting degrees to the latest cohort of PolyU’s PhD graduates. We are pleased that the COVID-19 pandemic is under good control in Hong Kong, enabling us to hold the Congregation in person this year, although some of our graduates can still only attend the ceremony online.
This year, PolyU is graduating 319 PhD degree recipients. Congratulations, graduates! Completing a PhD programme is no small feat; it usually takes three to five years of hard work, and is a great test of perseverance and resilience. This annual event is a celebration of not only the hard work on the part of our graduates, but also the commitment on the part of the staff of the University, especially the supervisors of our graduates. It is furthermore a celebration of the unfailing support given to our graduates by their families and friends.
Therefore, on this special day, I hope you remember all those who have supported your development, especially your parents and supervisors. Please also allow me to thank them, on behalf of PolyU, for their steadfast dedication.
This is undoubtedly a most challenging time in recent history to be graduating, when the world is facing unprecedented changes and difficulties. We can easily list many issues faced by the world, from the current challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic to the long-term challenge of climate change. As PhD graduates from PolyU, you will be in a strong position to contribute to the effort of humankind in addressing these issues.
I am sure that as PhD graduates, you have your own dreams for your life and career. As your President, I would like to remind you of your social responsibility as PolyU’s alumni. May I refresh your memory of the Motto, Vision and Mission of PolyU. You can see that we place a great emphasis on the benefit of our education and research to the development of Hong Kong, the nation and the world, and expect our graduates to be “socially responsible global citizens”. In other words, making a positive difference to the world is part of PolyU’s DNA. I have spoken on various occasions that we place positive values before disciplinary expertise in the education of our students; in particular, they should have a deep affection for their family and country and make positive contributions to society. I hope that as PolyU’s alumni, you will exemplify the spirit of social responsibility throughout your career and life.
Let me now share a few things to illustrate PolyU’s positioning and future direction as well as how we will continue to fulfil our social responsibility through our educational and research endeavours.
After 27 years of development from 1994 when the institution gained its official university status, PolyU has transformed dramatically from a teaching institution into a university with world-class education and research. In the latest Research Assessment Exercise, namely the RAE 2020, 70% of our research work was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent. We are also the only local university that has made uniquely important contributions to national space projects, including the Chang’e 5 mission to the Moon and our country’s first Mars mission Tianwen-1.
On the basis of our past achievements, we aspire to be among the best universities in the world, with a special emphasis on the societal impact of our work, echoing our commitment to social responsibility. Our positioning means that we benchmark our culture, systems, practices, standards, and achievements with the best universities in the world, and this positioning will guide all our future endeavours.
In education, we will launch new programmes to meet the needs of society for interdisciplinary talents, in order to capture the opportunities offered by emerging technologies underpinning the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence and data science. We will also enhance value education and whole-person development, for example, by strengthening our students’ exposure to Chinese history and culture.
In research, we have launched a major campaign of interdisciplinary collaborative research to address societal challenges through the establishment of the PolyU Academy for Interdisciplinary Research, known to us as PAIR. There are currently ten research institutes and five research centres under PAIR initiating vibrant research programmes for major breakthroughs.
As you may be aware, the achievements of PolyU have received wide international recognition, with our rising world university rankings being one of the indicators. With our new educational programmes and research endeavours, I am confident that we will scale new heights in the years to come. Please stay in touch with the University so that we can keep you informed of our developments and hear about your progress.
Before I conclude, I wish you the very best in achieving your aspirations and being a positive influence on society and the people around you. I also wish you all a successful, fulfilling and happy life!