For those who are international students or interested in reading English, we provide translated version about school policy of WINGS 21.3.
The Forgotten Express Stations
Have you ever noticed the two blue machines beside the entrance of Barn B when passing by? These two are Express Stations, though you may seldom notice them. A consensus about their efficiency may still not exist, but it is undeniable that their usage rate has been low for a long time. Here some suggestions to improve Express Stations would be provided.
Card readers are set up at Express Stations so that fellow students can manage their HKUST Cards besides surfing on the Net and receiving and sending emails. There are in total twenty-eight Express Stations. One can say they are ubiquitous. Eight of them are on Academic Concourse that you can find any once you pay more attention, but their usage rate is so low that fellow students are seldom seen to use them. Those which are used most often are in halls as it is convenient to pay the air-conditioning fee through Express Stations. There are two reasons behind their low general usage rate. Firstly, the University lacks promotion. Secondly, they are difficult to use. The trackballs installed now save space, but most fellow students are not used to them and turn to card readers in Barns instead.
In fact, the University can replace the trackballs with other hardware, such as touchscreens, for convenience. In addition, the University should promote Express Stations and encourage students to use them for division to alleviate the pressure of Barns. It is also found that the card readers at Express Stations are generally more reliable than those in Barns which are out of order.
A Brief Talk with President Tony F. Chan
The President is really busy. The appointment was made half a year ago for the interview lasting only for one hour. In the period, he performed with a band when this academic year commenced, shot a video to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, gave out mooncakes at Atrium, talked with students at President’s Forum, creating a close image for students.
This day, the President high above was no more unreachable. Talkative, he told me about himself and UST that I did not know.
More administrative work is in the routine for being the President. What are the differences with being a professor?
Their nature differs. Of course they have similarities, like working in a university. But as the President, one has to know the targets of a university and how it operates. For UST, it is mainly for teaching and research. Then it’s related to the targets of being a professor. So both can be entirely different, but you may see being the President as an extension of being a professor. Twenty years ago, my main duties as a professor was to teach. I also instructed and guided postgraduates to study some academic scopes and joined meetings to discuss all the time. It felt like a small family. Postgraduates are like sons and daughters. We call each other master and apprentices after they graduated. This is a lifelong relationship. I still keep contact with them now.
But being the President is different. First, my responsibility is to make a general view of the development of the whole university including UST’s postition in Hong Kong, China and the world. I have to know the development of university education in the world as well. So I can discuss how we should develop UST with the University’s management. This is the most important matter for me as the President. That’s why I often have more external duties. I have to know what the development outside is.
Second, I have a lot of adminstrative and managerial work. In the Council, the Court and the Senate, I am the direct representative of UST; I also need to represent the University to face Hong Kong society and express speech when people raise questions. For example, newspapers and reporters would invite me for interviews, once a week on average. I am the face, whether I like it or not. Thus I don’t have much time to do my own research. Since I decided to be the President of UST, I have determined to do my job well as the President. This is my job one, my day job. Research becomes next. If I have any chance I’ll do it, but won’t organize a small team of around ten people and ask for two to three sponsorships as before. Relatively speaking, now I have to ensure students’ employment and have meetings to ensure they have their own development. I am more often invited to give speeches in various venues. If these extra works have a time clash with some of my duties in the University, the activities in the University usually come first, because it’s only my personal stuff to give speeches and do research, but meeting with representatives from other universities in activities in UST is related to the University. I am to represent the University. It’s my main job.
Being the President needs a huge cost. Do you think it’s worth so?
Indeed I do, otherwise I won’t be the President. Everyone has their own targets about till when they would do in their careers. I’m not young. I think I know what I can do and I can’t in the academic aspect. I already had thirty-five doctoral students and twenty-five postgraduates. If I had continue doing research, I would just have a few more students every year. It’s quite interesting and rewarding, but becoming the President is a unique opportunity and also a privilege. Especially with its current status in Asia and the world, UST would draw many people’s attention. Thus, for me it’s also a timing, a chance. If I had missed it, I may have never had such chance again. It’s fate.
What do you think university education for students should be?
I personally think that going to university is not just to attend school, to own a degree, or to get a job. They are important indeed, but it is more important that students, teens during their admission, become grown-ups already during their graduatation. It’s a stage very important in one’s life. As university students you are the leaders of the society bearing its expectations. In secondary school life, you are more often spoon-fed and given structures and frames by schools and teachers. The University also gives a frame, but university students should think themselves about what you want to do. So most importantly, they should seek their talents. There are many things you don’t know when you only study, such as your hobbies, worldview and independent thinking. At university, professors are more experienced while students are from everywhere, with various backgrounds but similar levels. Students can share their views about trivial and significant matters in the society with their peers. This happens outside the classroom.
Build a good foundation as well. It’s not limited to your major. Your major may not be what your work will be about. This foundation is to get prepared for the world in the future. Especially the world changes so much and so fast. You may grasp good chances, new chances in the future that you can’t expect. With a foundation, you may get these chances faster than others. Just, say, computers - there were no computers or Internet in my days of studying. Those who invented them, however, are those who have a foundation with foresight, courage and determination. They become leaders - not only rich and successful, but also walking on the tip in some aspects, leading the trend and the development, and contributing to human beings and society. Nowadays Hong Kong society often uses the amount of one’s income as an inddicator, but it’s not the most significant one - it should be how to serve the soceity. The simplest example is the Internet. World Wide Web was invented by Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN, European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland. Its inventor Tim Berners Lee was not rich, but admired and respected by many. This is an invention influencing all human beings. Steve Jobs is also foresighted, and rich as well, but Tim Berners Lee will be also respected and recorded in the history after a hundred years.
Therefore we hope that university students would have an idea and know their own strengths and interests, not only thinking how much they can earn in the future in a philistine way, but having a sense of history and a sense of responsibility. Surely you may face pressure from your family, but university students are already the aces in the society. In addition, you have to think so in order to set a higher aim. If university students only want to find a job in the future, you won’t achieve your full potential. How much you can do in the future depends on your aims at present, whether you are confident and whether you pay every effort by heart to go in this direction. Indeed, not everyone will succeed. may waste time and affect grades but definitely meningful, worth. decide themselves.
The University takes special care of non-local students in terms of its policies. How do you think is the situation of integration of local and non-local students in UST? Ideal?
Individually quite good, but overall there is still room for improvement. That UGC (University Grants Committee) allowed every university to enrol non-local students with a maximum of 20%, is for local students’ good. Hong Kong is a relatively small place only with a population of seven million. The opportunities for Hong Kong’s university students are all over the world, not just limited in Hong Kong, China and Pearl River Delta, though. Even they stay in Hong Kong, there are multinational companies. So Hong Kong’s universities must be cosmopolitan, a key advantage of Hong Kong. We are not only to serve these non-local students, but UST has the responsibility to take care of them once they are enroled. Otherwise, it’s meaningless for them with a bad experience. For instance, Global Student Office (GSO) looks after non-local students while Student Affairs Office (SAO), a greater office, looks after all students. There may not be a department exclusively serving local students, but relatively our services consider all students, 80% of which are local students. Non-local students have their actual needs, like residential needs. If non-local students and exchange students have to solve residential needs on their own, I believe not many of them will come.
What’s your view about UST’s emphasis on internationalization?
The number of UST’s current non-local students, generally, has still not exceeded 20%. The number this year just comes close to 20%. Yet UST’s position is to enrol non-local students with the rate of 20%. Indeed facilities (like hall places) are still constrained, but UST also would not like to ignore their needs because of that. So UST enroled fewer exchange students last year with double cohorts’ admission. Our 1-HKUST Award, for example, also aims to integrate local and non-local students but not only to look care of non-local students, but there have been fewer local student applicants. Local students should take more initiative to assist non-local students to integrate into local culture or to bring social issues to their circle facilitating communication. This is a cosmopolitan relationship and it may help in the future development or career in multinational companies. Nowadays a lot of multinational companies are owned by Hong Kongers. When university students work in the society, they may be assigned to other places. A certain understanding about them would surely help in their jobs.
What suggestions do you have about integration of local and non-local students?
This is a challenge. We internally discuss a lot as well. As the leadership, we may do some assisting works like 1-HKUST Award. At that time local and non-local students both wished to integrate, but did not have any chance. Particularly local students mostly use Cantonese, posing difficulty in communication, so they would like the University to organize some activities. However they did not meet students’ hobbies. Thus, rather than that, the University funds and assists to let students organize activities which they would feel interested, such as Great Minds, UST Talent, TED, YTalk, etc. Many have participated in them. So the University is to help while it mainly relies on the fact that students do it themselves and enjoy them. Then other students would feel interested to join.
But the most significant is the problem of attitude. The privilege of non-local students is that they leave their homelands to come to Hong Kong and already want to integrate into Hong Kong. Hong Kong students are different: they see non-local students as if they were in a competition. Yet competition is for improvement; it’s the same in UST. If one sees them as chances of knowing about another culture, working partners in the future and lifelong friends, he or she will want to reach them more; or it is because he or she has the same hobbies with them but not for any benefit. I had great determination as well when studying aboard. I could have chosen to be with those from my own country. Still I tried hard to integrate into the place. I often watched TV, comedies and stand-up comedies, because if I could understand and laugh at the right rokes, that means that I have knew English well and the culture there. If others laugh but you don’t follow and don’t understand why they do, that means that you don’t know their culture and current issues. To understand the language is a tool to understand the culture. Thus, with such attitude to know the world through non-local students, you can think of ways to reach them. Local students can organize their own activities, for sure; it’s important not to forget their roots. Still, they can promote local culture through these activities.
What’s your own political view and political stance?
I personally do not participate in Hong Kong’s politics but do my job with an attitude of serving Hong Kong. I was politically independent and not only influenced by political parties even when I lived in U.S. So the current issues in Hong Kong, say, Occupy Central, are important regarding every aspect. In terms of its aim, I believe that many agree and hope for universal suffrage; I want universal suffrage as well. Nevertheless there can be other factors to say whether it is the most appropriate method. I don’t know it so clearly, I’m still following. But to go or not to go is a personal stance. It’s unnecessary to force others to join like being too aggressive. However I also encourage students to hold more activities for their peers to learn more about this issue. It is most practical to let them know the reasons behind Occupy Central, what universal suffrage is and how the best way of election is. After all every method has its pros and cons. For the economic aspect Professor Francis Lui has his arguments as well. It’s a personal decision whether civic disobedience is worth. But the nature of the activities may change if the organizers have their own stance beforehand.
There are not too many subjects about political science in UST. This is unlike HKU and CU which have departments of Government and Public Administration. Does UST have any possibility to start a similar curriculum? If it does, would it help raise political participation?
It’s all about position. UST’s position was decided by the government that we could not have a Bachelor of Arts programme. Similar departments and disciplines are mostly research-oriented and theory-based which may not have too many local political issues, though. To raise civic awareness and political participation still depends on extra-curricular activities while a program exclusively analyzing and discussing current issues is impossible. But it may not be good to have such department since its professors may have different political stances, leading to disagreements within the department. Relatively it may be more neutral to invite experts beyond the curriculum. Of course, a similar department may make more professors and students interested in politics that they will hold more related events. But it’s not necessary to establish and it may not be enough afterwards. On the contrary, the motivation of organization by students plus professors is bigger.
What are UST’s prospectives and development plan?
One of them is student life, including integration mentioned above. It’s very important. Another point, though difficult, is to hope to provide more space for students to do various activities and development with guarantee. It’s true that there is kind of difference in treatment towards student-led activities and those led by the University. Still, we hope that through encouraging the development of student activities, they can enjoy a rich, colorful campus life beyond the curriculum. This matches one of our missions as well that is to let students seek their own strengths. Student’s production at university is alos a kind of learning experience. If we can provide more space for students, we can encourage their creativity when they organize more activities and accumulate experience - it’s a part of education too. So I hope to provide as more space for students as possible under a frame of safety and protection on students. Although we have had no pratical ways till now, we started to consider already.
In addition, I hope to increase hall places. UST now has some halls being built in Tseung Kwan O; 1200 hall places will be provided on the campus as well. I personally also wish to build residential colleges with canteens, etc., in order to strengthen students’ sense of belonging to the University. I hope that more Schools will participate, not only Residential Masters. When hall places are sufficient, I hope that freshmen, no matter how far they live away from UST, can live on the campus. It’s different to live on the campus even for students living in Tseung Kwan O or Tai Po Tsai Village; it’s not just for convenience. They can be more independent, make more friends, and thus have a greater sense of belonging to here. Then, even they don’t live on the campus anymore after one year, they have become familiar with one another.
The second point we want to do is about students’ creativity and studies. This is a global trend. Particular we are a university of science and technology based on the mission since the establishment, so we have School of Science, School of Engineering, School of Business and School of Humanities and Social Science. It is another implication of 1-HKUST - the combination and cooperation is needed to acheive our mission. In Hong Kong, the areas of technologies and science are not large. Only relying on big companies, we cannot compete with other places at all. So we encourage students to start their business using knowledge acquired at university to carry out their own thoughts and ideas. We do a good job; we have Career Center and Build Your Own Business plan to invite business starters from outside to share their experience with students. But we understand that undergraduates are busy with their coursework, don’t know whether their thoughts can be carried out, and places and talents are needed when starting a business. So we want to provide better support and add it into coursework. We have a business starting course and annual competitions. Overall, this is one of our missions. Now we have to do it better.
At last I would like to talk about 1-HKUST. I’ve never particularly explained the ideas behind 1-HKUST. Although our views differ, we tend to support it. My original idea is, because our university have a vision, a mission and a position which needs every effort of every bit of us united to achieve. A few problems arise. First, until now we have four Schools; that’s not casual. We must have School of Humanities and Social Science in order to raise business starters and social leaders, or else we only raise talents of certain techniques. To build business, we cannot miss any among Science, Engineering and Business. So UST provides more minor quotas. No matter how students’ future careers are, they will have certain knowledge in every aspect. Even they study the BBA program in UST, people would expect that they have a basic understanding about technologies and may provide more related jobs. This is our advantage in competition, so we provide more transschool, transdisciplinary opportunities.
The second is integration. For UST, students with various backgrounds are all UST students. No differentiation should exist. Outside the circle of students, there are students, professors and staff in our university, many living on the campus. We can regard it as a small village. Bt can we do more? Say, homestays - students and professors should be able to be hosts. We do not do enough in this aspect. Sometimes we can communicate more with exchange students. We are part of UST, students are even the most important part. Whether UST will succeed depends on the development of graduates. On the other way, students are part of the University so can make suggestons and contribute their bit to UST, not only waiting the University to teach and look after. For example, some activities with Schools’ and staff’s participation can be held. Water Sports Center is one of them. Professors and staff members from many Schools feel interested in it, but currently we don’t have related activities to shorten their distance.