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Hong Kong Baptist University Founders' Day Reception

25 March 2009 (Wednesday)

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

Mr (Wilfred) Wong, Professor Ng (Ching-fai), Chief Justice, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very happy to join you today at the Founders' Day Reception to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the Hong Kong Baptist University.

The Baptist University has a long heritage of commitment to academic excellence, providing high quality, broad-based, and creativity-inspiring education. Your Whole Person Education vision has been and remains a cornerstone of what education at the Baptist University means. Over the years, the graduates of the Baptist University have contributed much to Hong Kong's vitality and success.

We also celebrate today the launching of the Hong Kong Baptist University Foundation. This Foundation bears testimony to the generosity of donors and the public recognition of Baptist University's achievements.

It is universally acknowledged that learning and training are central to the progress and development of a society. In our age, we must surf the wave of the knowledge-based economy, acquire new skills or be left behind. We need high-quality education to produce citizens who are versatile and can apply and adopt their knowledge in a changing environment.

The higher education sector is changing to meet these challenges - most obviously through the 3+3+4 reform. Under '334', institutions will provide a broad and balanced curriculum for students. But the transition requires a huge amount of preparation work. The daunting tasks include construction of new campuses and facilities and revamp of curriculum and admission systems. I know the Baptist University is making good progress. In fact, one of the purposes of the revamped Foundation is to help to reform the universities academic curriculum, in order to meet the demands of the new four-year undergraduate degree structure. I am also very pleased that the Baptist University has recently obtained funding approval from the Legislative Council of almost $1 billion for the construction of the Baptist University Road campus development, scheduled for completion in 2012.

From a broader perspective, the world we are living in has changed as globalisation has taken hold. Universities are challenged not only to provide the best programmes in terms of teaching and research, but also to adapt to the dynamics of the ever changing world. The sector as a whole must rise to the challenges ahead.

This is a tall order. We need to understand the changes going on in order to respond suitably. For this reason, the UGC has embarked on an important exercise, the Higher Education Review 2009. We aim to come up with a forward looking document in the first half of 2010 that can assist the Government and the public in reflecting on the purposes of higher education, perceived world trends, and strategies for Hong Kong's higher education system. In carrying out this task, we will meet with stakeholders and welcome your views.

I congratulate the Baptist University on your 53rd anniversary. I am confident that you will continue to go from strength to strength.

Thank you.