Newsletter No. 248

E - N E W S L E T T ER A B S T R A CT For details, please visit Volume 1 No. 7 CUHK Researchers Solve Mystery of Long- term Memory Researchers at The Chinese University, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Cornell University in the US, found that a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is crucial to the formation of long-term memory. BDNF is well known as a trophic factor for neuron survival. The discovery solved the longstanding mystery of what converts short-term memory to long-term memory. The results were published in Science on 15th October. Nobel Laureate Deconstructs Columbia Space Shuttle Accident at CUHK The world was stunned when NASA space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering earth last year. Prof. Douglas D. Osheroff, Nobel laureate in physics and member of the Columbia Accident I n v e s t i g a t i on Board, explained the causes of the accident at the University on 8th October. CUHK Student Wins Gold in Athens 2004 Paralympic Games Lau Yan-chi, year 1 social work student of United College, won a gold medal for Hong Kong in the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. Volume 1 No. 8 VC's Open Letter to Staff and Students (on the 3+3+4 Reform) Dear colleagues and students, The Education and Manpower Bureau released a consultation document today (20 October 2004) concerning senior secondary education reform and a four-year university system in Hong Kong. As an institution that upheld a four-year normative undergraduate curriculum from its inception to the early 1990s, The Chinese University of Hong Kong is strongly and wholeheartedly supportive of the 3+3+4 structure proposed, and is convinced that the new structure will help to enhance greatly the quality of local education and serve Hong Kong's long-term interest. The debate over the best academic structure of senior secondary education and tertiary education has been going on for more than two decades, both on and off campus. Our stance has been to support three-year junior and three-year senior secondary schooling, which, we believe, will lead to a more coherent learning experience and a less examination-oriented curriculum. The current situation is untenable in that it subjects students to two high-stake public examinations (HKCEE and HKALE) within a short span of three years, and the HKALE curriculum is too narrow in scope. Six years secondary and four years tertiary education is the mainstream academic structure internationally. The proposed new structure will thus enable better articulation with academic systems both on the mainland and overseas. Many more non-local students will be attracted to come to Hong Kong for their education or for exchange, just as many more of our local students will be able to go to the mainland or overseas for exchange. All this will expedite the process of internationalization which we advocate for our University, and help to realize the vision of 'education without borders', a prerequisite for building Hong Kong into a higher education hub of the region. Central to our support of a four-year first-degree structure, however, is the room and flexibility it allows for whole-person development. Universities shall have greater leeway to increase curriculum choices and design a balanced programme to nurture generalists within specializations, in this respect our flexible credit unit system has always stood us in good stead and we are ready any time for the change. The aim of university education is not only to equip students with the skills of advancing the frontiers of knowledge, but also to groom their personal attributes, to cultivate their ability to adapt to a knowledge society and to rise to the challenges of a fast-changing world. For the same reasons, we also support the proposal to develop Liberal Studies as a core subject to broaden the senior secondary curriculum. We intend to make it a requirement for university admission in due course, for we believe that the interdisciplinary content of the subject and its enquiry-based pedagogy are conducive to the cultivation of key generic skills and critical thinking in senior secondary school students. Many of our faculty members are actively involved in the preparation for the launch of this subject. While and especially because we strongly support the reform to a 3+3+4 structure, we do not believe it should be linked to an across- the-board increase in university tuition fees. The matter of university tuition should be dealt with independently. We note that there was no change in tuition fees when our University converted from a four-year to a three-year normative undergraduate curriculum at the direction of the government in 1994. We support the principle of shared funding, but the community consensus has always been that this means that students pay an agreed percentage of their education cost. Economic recovery will allow the government to increase its investment in education, and allocations to universities via the University Grants Committee can be adjusted accordingly to provide the funding required for an additional fourth year at the tertiary level. The University is prepared to work with all parties and explore all options to make the four- year undergraduate curriculum once again a reality at the earliest possible date. 1 fully understand that you have interest in and concern about the proposed reforms. We all do. The University will continue to discuss with both the government and sister institutions about how reforms should be implemented. The common wish of our faculty, staff, students and alumni is to revert as soon as possible to a four-year curriculum structure, which the University had from its establishment in 1963 to the early 1990s. In case certain parties are not yet ready, The Chinese University should be prepared to take the lead. Let us work together towards this goal. Lawrence J. Lau Vice-Chancellor 20 October 2004 Volume 1 No. 9 Masters in Chinese Culture Join CUHK as Chair Professors Renowned scholars in the humanities, Chinese culture, and languages — Lee Ou-fan, David Faure, Cheung Hung-nin, and Wang Shi-yuan — have recently joined The Chinese University as chair professors. They will help boost CUHK's continuing efforts at promoting Chinese culture. Showing Chinese Art in Its Full Splendour at CUHK Art Museum The Art Museum of The Chinese University is staging an exhibition entitled 'Noble Riders from Pines and Deserts: The Artistic Legacy of the Qidan' from 25th October 2004 to 20th February 2005. In addition to the recent Innovation and Creations: A Retrospect of 20th Century Porcelain from Jingdezhen' and last year's 'Double Beauty: Qing Dynasty Couplets from the Lechangzai Xuan Collection', the Art Museum has, within eighteen months, mounted three important exhibitions showcasing some of the jewels of Chinese culture. CUHK Students at the Top in National General Knowledge Competition A team of students from The Chinese University won second prize in the Third Greater China General Knowledge Competition on 15th October held in Beijing. C U H K Ra n k ed F o u r t h Gl oba l ly in I n t e r na t i onal Business Research The Chinese University was ranked fourth in international business research worldwide by Management International Review, a leading international business journal based in Germany. 1 No. 248 4th November 2004