Training and research go hand in hand and Hong Kong needs them both for quality education and the prosperity of its economy, industries and workforce, says RGC chairman Prof Roland Chin.
While spending on research in the US, Japan, South Korea and even Singapore which is half Hong Kong’s size is in the range of 2.5 to 2.8% of GDP, research spending from all sources in Hong Kong is about 0.7 %, he said.
|Prof Chin: “There is proven acceptance around the world that research informs teaching as well as benefits society economically.”
“There’s an attitude that Hong Kong only needs to buy the research and inventions it needs; it doesn’t need to invest in research,” he told Research Frontiers.
He added: “In fact, Hong Kong needs to invest a lot more than it does if it is even interested in keeping up with its neighbours.”
Currently, China’s investment on research is 1.3 to 1.5% of GDP “but they are marching towards 2.5%. As Hong Kong is an integral part of China, we need to align ourselves with this to contribute to the nation.”
Prof Chin outlined reasons why he believes research is so important.
Research and teaching: “Research is important for students’ learning and teaching to produce a quality workforce that will bring economic benefits all round,” he said. Currently, Hong Kong has about 4,000 professors. Many undertake research as part of their duties for a better education to our undergraduate students.
“They are able to give insights and pass on latest developments in their expertise; this excites and motivates students.”
Applying innovation: Training of research personnel is extremely important in recognising the value of innovation and creativity and putting them to good use, said Prof Chin.
“Even if we could buy all the inventions in the world, we would not be able to generate any jobs or wealth from them unless we have people to recognise their usefulness and know what to do with them.”
Innovative workforce: Research training is general training and can generate creativity in almost anything, said Prof Chin.
“Someone trained, for example, to research in computer science may go into the finance market and do finance modelling. Students going into the workforce need enquiring minds to innovate and solve problems; research training gives them this. Producing innovative citizens will create good job opportunities for them.”
Discovery and economic benefit: Research training drives discovery, and discovery leads to new services and products, said Prof Chin.
He added: “There is proven acceptance around the world that research benefits society economically. Research is a whole sequence of events, starting from fundamental research, to applied research, knowledge transfer, commercialisation; the entire food chain has many components and each of them produces impact and benefit to the society.”
Keeping in step with the Chinese mainland: “We are an integral part of China and we need to be aligned with the mainland in its research and development. Increasing numbers of Hong Kong companies are forming partnerships with China companies, and more and more Hong Kong students will be working there.”
Prof Chin added: “If we don’t make more investment in research and build our own research capability in the strategic areas we will be left behind.”