Forward to Friends Home Contact Us Past Issue facebook YouTube 简体中文 繁體中文

Internationalization is of critical importance to higher education institutions

Internationalization is of critical importance to higher education institutions


Earlier this month, the inaugural PolyU Global Student Challenge came to a fruitful close with the participation of more than 180 teams of secondary school and university students from 21 countries and territories.

The competition is one of the University’s latest initiatives to embrace internationalization. In this issue, Prof. Judy Tsui, Vice President (International and Executive Education) and Chairman of PolyU’s Task Force on Internationalization, explains the need for the higher education sector to internationalize and the advancements PolyU is making in this respect.

Why is it important for the higher education sector to internationalize?

In today’s highly globalized world, cross-cultural influences are greater than ever before and isolation from the rest of the world is no longer an option for any sector in a modern society. All major higher education institutions around the world have been responding to globalization by making internationalization a key element of their strategies. They see the substantial opportunities offered by globalization to expand the educational mission: adding an international dimension to the curriculum; promoting among our students a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity; engaging in collaborative research and scholarships across borders; and giving impetus to dynamic and impactful knowledge and technology transfer. Universities in Hong Kong obviously cannot afford to miss out on this global phenomenon and all the opportunities it brings. “If we don’t internationalize, we would run the risk of becoming irrelevant.” Let me quote our President from his speech in the Going Global Forum held in March this year.

Indeed, with Hong Kong aspiring to become an education hub, there is an urgent need for Hong Kong to accelerate its efforts in facilitating the internationalization of the higher education sector so as to stay competitive in the region. Our neighbor Singapore, for example, has been taking a very proactive approach by attracting non-local students and offering them job opportunities upon graduation.

How is PolyU adapting to this trend of global integration?

PolyU has long recognized the need for our students to acquire a global perspective through a combination of formal learning and outside-of-the-classroom learning so that they would be able to work in an international and multi-cultural environment. In other words, all our graduates should be equipped with an international awareness and the ability to address global issues and front up global challenges.

In our Strategic Plan 2008-2012, internationalization is already identified as one of our strategic objectives. The subsequent set-up of our International Affairs Office and the President’s establishment of the new position of Vice President (International and Executive Education) are clear indications of the University’s commitment to expedite the internationalization process.

Some are concerned that internationalization would mean an overemphasis on non-local students. How do you strike the right balance?

I must stress that local students are always our primary concern.Our ultimate objective of internationalization is to benefit local students by providing them with a global learning experience and thus broadening their horizons. By attracting overseas and mainland students to study at PolyU, we are creating an international environment that facilitates cultural and academic exchanges, and that at the same time enhances our students’ awareness that competition on a global scale is here to stay and that they must rise to the challenge.

How diversified is our student body at present?

In the past, non-local students made up about 8% of our student population and most of them are from the Chinese mainland. Last year we admitted 20 overseas students. The number will be tripled to 60 this year with the majority of them coming from Asia. Our target is to boost the number of quality students to around 150 by 2013, thereby getting closer to achieving the new 20% non-local student quota approved by the University Grants Committee.

What other efforts are being undertaken to promote internationalization?

To tie in with the implementation of the four-year curriculum in 2012, we are now recruiting teaching staff from all over the world. We have also set up a World-Class Scholar Scheme under which leading scholars worldwide are invited to join the University to enhance our academic and research strength. And we have recently launched a new 2010 Compensation and Benefit Model to retain and recruit high quality academics and professionals.

Curriculum development is also a critical area we are working on. We aim to infuse an international dimension into our programmes to provide students with the multi-cultural and international perspectives required to succeed in the increasingly interconnected world.

Another important aspect of internationalization, especially for a university like PolyU, is research. We will continue with our efforts to foster international collaboration in research with top universities around the world.

In terms of global networking, we have already established strategic partnerships with more than 560 institutions in some 40 countries and regions.

What are the challenges facing our mission to internationalize?

The major challenge is of course the shortage of hostel places, especially by 2012. Although our new student hostel in Homantin can provide additional 1,650 places, it would still fall short of the demand.

We are exploring all options to tackle the problem. For example, we are reviewing the current hostel policy. One possibility is setting up a housing office to provide help and advice to new students who can only reside in our hostels for one year. We would also explore with potential donors and real estate developers who may wish to contribute to the education development in Hong Kong, on the possibility of leasing residence to our students at discount rates. We will do whatever we can to assist all the overseas and mainland students with their accommodation need.

Another major challenge is recruiting outstanding academics and non-local students in the global hunt for talents among universities across the world.The scene is highly competitive but we have spared no efforts in attracting the best of talents to PolyU. The new 2010 Compensation and Benefit Model, as mentioned, is one of our latest initiatives to retain and recruit high quality staff. And since the set-up of the International Affairs Office, we have made great strides in recruiting top notch international students.


This e-newsletter is published by PolyU's Communications and Public Affairs Office.
© All rights reserved.