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"3+3+4" Symposium - "Partnering for Excellence in Education"

6 December 2008 (Saturday)

Speech by The Hon. Mrs. Laura M. Cha, SBS, JP
Chairman, University Grants Committee

Secretary for Education, Professor Cheung, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to join the Symposium today - and wonderful to see such a strong response from colleagues in the education sector. This shows the importance that we all attach to the momentous change that is "3+3+4". I congratulate the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd), with the support of the Heads of Universities Committee, on organizing this meaningful event.

UGC Sponsored "3+3+4" Joint Activities

The University Grants Committee (UGC) and our funded institutions attach great importance to the move to a four year normative degree. We are committed to this major reform, and have been working hard in order to make the transition a success.

The UGC sector is an interlocking system, and each of the eight institutions has a different role and unique strength. Therefore, it is natural for institutions to draw up individual plans to cater for their unique characters and differing development needs. At the same time, the introduction of the new undergraduate system is a sector wide reform, and there are many common issues that institutions will need to deal with. One of the most important elements is to ensure that the school sector - and parents and students - understand and are comfortable with what the institutions plan to do. For all these reasons, the UGC considers it important for the institutions to share their thoughts and plans, not only among themselves but also with key stakeholders.

We are therefore very pleased that the eight institutions will take turns to organise some 12 UGC-sponsored "3+3+4" joint activities over the next few years to encourage sharing of information and ideas. Various themes, covering a wide range of issues pertaining to "3+3+4" will be addressed, including : "interface issues" today, "admissions", "curriculum development", "knowledge transfer", "outcome-based learning", "language issues", and more.

UGC's Role

Extending the normative length of undergraduate study is not simply shifting one year of secondary education to the tertiary level, or adding one foundation year to undergraduate studies. Enormous energy and thought needs to be put into the areas of curriculum development, infrastructural support, staff recruitment, administrative measures, and student support services, etc.

Most of the work will be handled by the institutions themselves, while the UGC positions itself as a strong supporter and facilitator. We do this by providing: one-off financial support - in total over $700 million up to 2012; offering independent advice; and participating in the liaison between the Government and the UGC sector. In view of the importance of "3+3+4", the UGC has set up a sub-group with specific responsibility of overseeing "3+3+4" matters within our purview.

We are also working hand-in-hand with the institutions on their capital proposals, which are now reaching the stage on needing funding approval from the Legislative Council. We are on a tight timeframe.

We and the institutions started work on all this back in 2005. Good progress is being made, and on the curriculum / admissions front, some elements of the new system are already being introduced and will continue during the 2009-12 triennium. This is very encouraging, and will start to bring benefits to current students.

Importance of Partnership

The introduction of "3+3+4" must involve collaboration with, and by all parties involving in the education reform. Discussing "interface issues" today is a very good move, as there are fundamental cross-sectoral issues to be aired and taken forward. Close partnership by every player in the education sector will be important.

I am very pleased to see so many from the school sector, higher education institutions, the Government and other important organisations in education joining us today. I hope this and the coming UGC-sponsored events can help foster understanding, encourage genuine dialogue, and facilitate exchange of ideas between our institutions and the relevant parties concerned.


Finally, I look forward to a lively symposium, and wish this event great success. Thank you very much.