Newsletter No. 95

University's Response t o TLQPR Report The University Grants Committee's Teaching and Learning Quality Process Review Panel visited the University on 4th and 5th January 1996 to discuss with University leaders, teachers, and students the strengths and weaknesses of the University's quality assurance processes. The Committee issued a review report to the University in May and the University has released a statement in response to the report. The following is the statement in its entirety: A Statement in Response to the Report on the Teaching and Learning Quality Process Review Teaching is the primary function, indeed the raison d' ê tre, of The Chinese University o f Hong Kong. It has been and should always be the front and foremost activity taking place on the campus daily. This has been confirmed by the Report of the Teaching and Learning Quality Process Review (TLQPR) Panel o f the University Grants Committee (UGC) i n it s 'Introduction',which states, 'The Chinese University of Hong Kong takes pride in its culture of teaching quality, and the TLQPR Panel found considerable evidence to support this view.' No efforts will be spared by the University to provide its students with an education of the highest possible standard. In this connection, the University welcomes the recent focus of the UGC on the existence and efficacy o f teaching quality improvement and assurance processes o f institutions, no t only because i t can help focus attention on the importance of the teaching function, but also because i t can provide views and insights from the fresh angle o f a third party. The UGC conducted a Teaching and Learning Quality Process Review of the University i n January 1996. The Report of the review is now received by the University for record and follow-up action. The University is also requested by the UGC to release i t for general information. The University i s greatly encouraged by the TLQPR Panel's acknowledgement i n the Report's 'Introduction' that 'sufficient improvement and assurance processes are in place to warrant a satisfactory degree of confidence about the University's current quality of teaching and learning'. The University has worked singularly hard towards such a culture, which is now understood and felt by its teachers. This is also something the Panel has acknowledged. The University takes a different view from that of the Panel regarding the alleged reliance on 'implicit processes' in teaching and learning quality improvement and assurance. First of all, existing processes are more than implicit. The visiting examiner system, compulsory course evaluation policy and the teaching staff recruitment and assessment procedures have served well in bringing about the University's present achievements in its academic standard. Second, the University believes that the best possible quality is the successful embedment of a culture where teachers and students motivate themselves t o bring about the improvements. Th e University will therefore caution itself against creating a bureaucracy for defining and reporting activities in the pursuit of teaching quality because such a bureaucracy may stifle the initiatives of the individuals concerned and because too elaborate and definitive a procedural system may only result in lip-service obedience, which is not conducive to a self-reflective and self-initiated approach i n the pursuit o f quality. Having said that, the University will of course continue t o work out ways and means t o improve it s existing processes for even greater effectiveness. The University will continue t o uphold it s bilingual policy, which is o f paramount importance in the training of future leaders of the community. While believing that effective language training should best be given in primary and secondary education, and that the low language standard among Hong Kong students reflects the failure of language education a t the primary and secondary school levels, the University sees the provision of language courses at the University fo r incoming students, particularly those a t the lower end o f the ability spectrum, as a priority area for development. The Panel has observed that a few students in this university may have graduated with less English proficiency. Such a phenomenon is by no means unique to this institution. The University has in fact been actively addressing this difficult task of language education given the constraints of limited resources on the one hand and students' limited time on the other. Apart from the provision of elective proficiency courses, which includes offering them i n the summer break, and multi-facet language enhancement activities organized by the Independent Learning Centre and the four Colleges of the University, the Faculties o f Business Administration, Engineering and Social Science will with effect from 1996-97 require their new students t o take a t least one language course. Plans ar e underway fo r introducing language programmes i n other faculties catering t o the specific needs of individual faculties in the near future. Our commitment to the good quality of language education will never waver. Consul tants Appointe d to Mon i t or Pak She kKok Dum pSite Science Park Project Yet t o Receive Green Light T he construction o f a seawall fo r the Pak Shek Kok dump site will begin next month and public dumping will begin i n April 1997. As previously reported in the CUHK Newsletter (April 1996, issue no. 86), all dumping materials will be transported to the site by sea from Ma On Shan. At a meeting held between representatives of the government's Civil Engineering Department and the University's Buildings Office last month, the University was also informed that consultants had been appointed fo r baseline environmental monitoring and th e supervision of environmental auditing during the construction stage. The government reconfirmed its agreement to send all related reports to Prof. Lam Kin-che o f the Department o f Geography, who is convener of the monitoring group set up by the University to keep the administration posted of the impact of the reclamation project on the campus and the effectiveness o f the government's mitigation measures. The government also undertook t o liaise regularly with th e University over environmental monitoring work at stations on CUHK campus, and t o hold meetings with relevant parties as and when required. As for the proposal t o use the reclaimed area as the site fo r a science park, the government as ye t hasn't released any specific details. I n December 1995 the University organized a symposium wherein industrialists, government officials, and academics discussed the feasibility o f setting u p a science park i n Hong Kong and it s impact o n th e local economy. There ha s been n o official communication since then regarding any decision the government may have reached. The Governor in his recent policy address however reiterated government plans to further study the project and the related financial arrangements. Listing various policy commitments th e Governor said, 'We will work out the institutional and financial arrangements fo r a Science Park t o provide further technological support for Hong Kong's manufacturing industry and to help it move into higher technology and higher value-added production. Public consultation on the feasibility o f the project was completed a t the end o f 1995 and wide support was received.'