Home > UGC Publications > Speeches and Articles > 2000 > Speech by Dr Alice Lam, Chairman, UGC, at the Seminar cum Workshop on "Medical Education Reform : the HK Experience" (8.3.2000)

Speech by Dr Alice Lam,Chairman, University Grants Committee at the Seminar cum Workshop on 'Medical Education Reform : the HK Experience'

I feel honoured to have been invited to speak today at the opening of this Seminar cum Workshop on "Medical Education Reform : Hong Kong Experience". I would also like to add my own warm welcome to those visiting Hong Kong for this event. Your sharing with other participants your views and experience in adopting problem-based learning in your institutions will no doubt help to advance the modernisation of the medical curriculum for the training of better doctors for tomorrow.

Around the world, far-reaching changes are taking place in the science and practice of medicine. To name a few : concerns about the costs of health care will lead to an increased focus on the promotion of health; better educated patients with sophisticated understanding of medicine will make increasing demands on quality health care services; the information explosion in medicine will continue and new skills will be needed to evaluate and apply this new knowledge. Locally, the health care reform currently under consideration by the Government is expected to bring about a complete change in the delivery of health care services and hence the public demands on our doctors.

Doctors will need to be much more adaptable in this dynamic situation. They will need to be able to cope with an ever-increasing knowledge base, and to keep themselves abreast with professional knowledge throughout their careers.

Here, I would like to compliment HKU's Medical Faculty for their foresight. Aiming to prepare medical graduates to meet the challenges of the next few decades, the Faculty initiated a curriculum reform which sought to revamp the traditional curriculum by modernizing and restructuring it to promote active, integrated and student-centred learning. A new medical curriculum was introduced in September 1997 heralding the arrival of a new age in Hong Kong's medical education.

Problem-based learning encourages deep learning by focussing the teaching and learning process fully on the student, and by recognizing that the process and context of learning are often as important as the content. It is also an exciting way to learn, to motivate students to learn and to strengthen their ability in self-learning.

The UGC was very supportive of the Faculty's new curriculum as it complemented the UGC's own efforts to promote teaching and learning quality. The UGC's support for good teaching and learning is evident in our various initiatives to support developments and improvements in teaching and learning. One of these is the provision of targeted funding in the form of Teaching Development Grants. Over the past six years, the UGC has awarded a total of $386 million as Teaching Development Grants and other grants to support teaching quality related initiatives, including projects to promote the use of problem-based learning.

In the 1995-98 triennium, the UGC allocated $6.5 million to HKU to launch a project which aimed at introducing problem-based learning across a range of disciplines, and to encourage teachers to develop skills in the methodology of problem-based learning. It was the successful implementation of this project that led to the adoption of problem-based learning curricula in HKU's Health Science departments under the Medical Faculty. The UGC has recently allocated another $6 million in Teaching Development Grants to HKU to embark on a new project to further promote the use of problem-based learning in other disciplines in Hong Kong's tertiary institutions.

The sharing of good practices is another area that the UGC seeks to promote among our eight institutions. We feel that only through experience-sharing activities can the philosophy and culture of good learning and teaching be spread to a wider audience and in turn benefit the higher education sector as a whole. This Seminar cum Workshop is an excellent example of such an initiative, bringing institutions in various parts of Asia together to share experiences in medical education reform for the greater good of the Asian communities.

Once again, I would like to welcome you all here and I wish the organizers and all participants a very successful and fruitful series of discussions.