A conversation with Vice President (Education) Professor Kwok-yin Wong - Developing multifaceted future leaders
With a proven track record of academic excellence as well as extensive leadership and management experience, Professor Kwok-yin Wong was appointed Vice President (Education) in September 2020. Professor Wong joined the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology of the then Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1990, and has witnessed the University’s growth during the past three decades. Professor Wong is also Patrick S.C. Poon Endowed Professor in Applied Chemistry, Chair Professor of Chemical Technology, as well as Director of the State Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery.
Can you share with us the features that have distinguished PolyU over the years?
PolyU has always put a strong emphasis on addressing societal needs through its education and research. We offer professional education that meets the community's manpower needs. Our programmes in design, textiles, hotel and tourism management, health sciences and many other areas continue to be unique and popular in the city.
We also remain committed to transforming our research breakthroughs into real-world solutions, improving lives in the community for the benefit of the world. The University’s pursuit of excellence and impact is recognised through its continuous rise in world rankings. PolyU is now a leading university with exceptional research in multiple disciplines.
What is your vision for PolyU’s development in the area of learning and teaching?
The University’s vision statement “Be a leading university that advances and transfers knowledge, and provides the best holistic education for the benefit of Hong Kong, the nation and the world” is always in my mind. We strive to nurture students to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, innovative problem solvers and socially responsible global citizens. We not only help students acquire professional knowledge but also nurture them in a holistic manner.
For example, we believe research work can sharpen students’ higher-order thinking skills, such as logical, creative and critical thinking. We have launched the Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scheme (URIS) for the 2021/22 academic year to nurture the next generation of researchers and innovators. Under URIS, undergraduate students will receive a scholarship to undertake small-scale research projects under the guidance and supervision of academic staff who are strong in research. Students enrolled on URIS will have priority admission to a new residential college and access to an enhanced guidance system to help promote holistic development. Through research work, students can be transformed from being merely "consumers" of knowledge to being "creators" of knowledge.
Can you share with us some initiatives regarding the future development of the University’s education programmes?
To help students move with the times, we will introduce new elements to our curriculum, namely Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in September 2022. Our departments will incorporate these elements into their existing programmes. From then on, undergraduate students, regardless of their academic discipline, will be able to choose one of these areas as a secondary major during their four-year study. This initiative aims to equip students with interdisciplinary knowledge, to help them embrace new technology and develop the innovative mindset that is critical in the rapidly evolving world.
Another major initiative is a move towards scheme-based admissions, starting from the 2022/23 academic year. Students will no longer be required to choose their major before they enter the University.
Instead, in the first year, they will be exposed to knowledge across a broader field by taking common core courses within their own department. This approach will help them to make a better informed decision when they need to decide on a major in their second year of study. It also allows flexibility and broadens students’ perspectives. In 2025, we will even allow first-year students to choose courses from across their own faculty.
Can you share some words of encouragement with our students?
Hong Kong, as an international city, will play an instrumental role in the development of the Greater Bay Area, and there will be more career opportunities for young people. While there are opportunities, there is also competition. Always equip yourselves well for the opportunities and competition ahead. Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. Be open-minded and stay positive.
Do you have a motto that you live by?
“Work at something you enjoy and that's worthy of your time and talent.” (H. Jackson Brown Jr.) To know how to do something well is to enjoy it. The more you enjoy it, the better the results you get.
How do you spend your free time?
I like reading books, especially those about history. By reading what happened in the past, we can learn from yesterday, understand today and plan for tomorrow.
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