Issue 20 - July 2021
Online Information Sessions on Service-Learning Subjects on Offer in Semester One of 2021/22
SLLO Annual Report 2019-20
Habitat Green in East-Africa Habitat Green in East-Africa

Habitat Green is a one-year leadership programme that focuses on global leadership and cultural sensitivities in the context of...

One World Our World in Hong Kong One World Our World

One World Our World, themed “Social Diversity and Inclusion” will be held in Hong Kong with students from PolyU and other universities around...

Generation-C SERVE in Thailand Generation-C SERVE in Thailand

Generation-C SERVE is a leadership programme that brings students from PolyU and other universities in Asia to learn and serve together. The...

FAQs on Service-Learning subjects in the time of COVID-19 pandemic

Service-learning (SL) is an experiential learning pedagogy that integrates community service with academic study and reflection. Research has identified SL as a high-impact practice in higher education that can have a strong positive influence on students’ academic, civic, social, moral and personal development.

When PolyU started planning to adopt SL as an institutional strategy in 2010, a task force carefully studied the implementation of SL at other leading institutions and developed a framework appropriate for ourselves. We aimed to develop an inclusive model that would encourage all faculty members and academic departments to develop SL courses that would reflect their own strengths and skillsets. We strived to develop a broad range of courses to cater for the diverse preferences and strengths of the students, and embed social responsibility in the fabric of the university.

To ensure academic quality, we instituted a parallel structure of quality assurance and course support. A subcommittee of experienced faculty members is responsible for formulating policies on subject development and approval, risk assessment and monitoring the execution of the courses through the assessment results and student feedback. For course support, we also created an Office of Service-Learning (restructured to the Service-Learning and Leadership Office [SLLO] since September 2019). The SLLO provides operational support in implementing SL, such as bridging the gap between the faculty and community organisations through liaisons and match-making, creating innovative projects, exploring challenging service sites, identifying and assessing the risks to students and the community, supervising students in service and conducting relevant research and development on SL.

After the SL requirement was formalised in 2010, we bootstrapped the process by encouraging teachers who had prior experience in leading community-based student projects to develop a set of pilot courses, and provided a stipend to support the participating teachers. The first 10 credit-bearing SL courses were piloted in the 2011/12 academic year, with a roll of 243 students. From this humble beginning, the SL component has grown to 60 approved courses involving 170 teachers from 26 departments, with a roll of 4,000 students each academic year, with service locations in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan and Rwanda. In 2012, we admitted the first cohort of students required to take Service-Learning courses as a graduation requirement. In 2016, this cohort graduated successfully. We have achieved our first important target: to provide a sufficient number of SL courses and student places for all students.

In the next phrase, we will focus more on quality and impact. Based on our own research, we have found that whether our SL courses achieve their purposes depend on a number of factors, including:

1challenging and meaningful tasks,

2interest in the subject/project,

3perceived benefits to people served,

4preparation for service,

5student effort in service, and

6interaction with service recipients.

We will continue to review and refine the courses on offer and to design new courses/projects to strengthen these elements. We will focus more on expanding our SL program overseas, to take our students to new challenges away from Hong Kong, to collaborate with universities and institutions overseas, in Asia and beyond, to broaden our global exposure. We will expand on scholarly studies and research on the pedagogy and practices of service-learning, to ensure that our programs are based on solid academic grounds and to advance the scholarship of service-learning. Finally, we will expand beyond credit-bearing subjects into student-based projects, leadership development for social engagement, and staff participation, to contribute to the embedding of social responsibility in the fabric of the university.

Grace Ngai


In just a few years' time, service-learning (SL) has built up a strong momentum at PolyU and the SL community has expanded greatly. The Service-Learning and Leadership Office (SLLO) takes great pride in the instrumental role we play in developing and supporting SL at PolyU. Some of the achievements regarding SL that PolyU has made so far include:
The Global Teaching Excellence Award is the first global award to recognize and celebrate an institutional commitment to the pursuit of teaching and learning excellence. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University was recognised for its service-learning initiative. PolyU is one of 27 finalists and the only Asian University to make it to the final round.
The judging panel, which consisted of educators and academics from all five continents, felt that "The University's 'Service Learning' initiative plays a pivotal role in its institutional strategy, with major efforts being invested in making it inclusive and of sufficient scale to be available to all students.” “Three things that characterised the finalists’ success are: a strong commitment to teaching through mission relevant strategies; second, the scholarship of teaching and learning is absorbed into continuous professional development programmes; and third, the encouragement of participating in placements, internships and volunteering – all of which are hugely enriching the student experience.”
2017 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Finalist

UGC Teaching Award

The annual UGC Teaching Award was introduced in 2011 to honour those who excel in teaching in the UGC sector. The Award does not only recognise past and present teaching performance and achievements, but also the teachers' leadership in and scholarly contribution to teaching and learning within and across institutions. The awardees are expected to become "ambassadors of good teaching" to collectively make a real and sustained impact in promoting teaching excellence.
2016 Dr Grace Ngai & Dr Stephen Chan
The global Reimagine Education competition 2016 attracted 807 submissions from 56 countries. 527 entries were accepted and 140 shortlisted. The international panel of judges consisted of 40 experts who evaluated the projects based on three main criteria: innovation, impact, depth or scalability.
2016 Service Leadership through Serving Children and Families with Special Needs, Team led by Prof Daniel T.L. Shek, "Social Enterprise" Category, Bronze


2016 "希望旅程" 服務學習夏令營, Outstanding Project 優秀項目
2015 Promotion of Children and Adolescent Development, "Presence Learning" Category, Shortlisted
2015 Technology Beyond Borders - A flagship credit-bearing service-learning subject, "Teaching Delivery" Category, Shortlisted
The Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards (APICTA Awards) is an international awards program organize by APICTA, which aims to increase ICT awareness in the community and assist in bridging the digital divide. By providing networking and product benchmarking opportunities to ICT innovators and entrepreneurs in the region, the program is designed to stimulate ICT innovation and creativity, promote economic and trade relations, facilitate technology transfer, and offer business matching opportunities via exposure to venture capitalists and investors.
2014 A mobile Computing Center: A Lab in a Suitcase on a Tuktuk, Inclusion and Community, Merit
The Hong Kong ICT Awards aims to recognise and promote outstanding ICT inventions and applications, thereby encouraging innovation and excellence among Hong Kong’s ICT talents and enterprises in their constant pursuit for creative and better solutions to meet business and social needs.
2014 A mobile Computing Center: A Lab in a Suitcase on a Tuktuk, Best Digital Inclusion (Service), Silver
Every two years, the WITSA Global ICT Excellence Awards recognize select organizations whose use of IT has exhibited exceptional achievement within five broad categories: Public Sector Excellence, Private Sector Excellence, Mobile Excellence, Digital Opportunity and Sustainable Growth. In addition, a special Chairman’s Award is presented to a nominee from the entire pool of candidates from all five categories.
2014 A mobile Computing Center: A Lab in a Suitcase on a Tuktuk, Digital Opportunity Award, Nominated


At The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Service-Learning is defined as an experiential learning pedagogy that integrates meaningful community service with academic study and reflections to enrich students’ learning experience, in order to achieve the intended institutional or programme learning outcomes. It is expected that Service-Learning at PolyU will not only enhance students’ sense of civic responsibility and engagement, but also benefit the community at large. It emphasizes learning through engagement in services. As a pedagogy, Service-Learning gives academic learning, service experience and reflection central roles in learning.

Service-Learning commonly involves the following three components:



To help establish PolyU as a centre of excellence in service-learning and leadership. 


In partnership with staff, students and the community, we are committed to advancing service-learning and youth leadership at PolyU, and preparing students to become civic-minded professionals with leadership skills, cross-cultural capability, global perspective and a heart to serve.


TU428, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,

Kowloon, Hong Kong


+ 852 2766 4376


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