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"3+3+4" Symposium on General Education - The 4th Symposium

Hosted by CUHK
on 3 June 2009 (Wednesday)

Welcoming Address by Mr Michael V STONE, JP
Secretary-General, University Grants Committee

Kenneth, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. I am glad to see many of you joining the symposium today which is hosted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) with the sponsorship of the University Grants Committee (UGC). In the past 5 to 6 months, four symposia - including this one - in relation to the preparation of the four-year undergraduate system have been held. And I consider they have all been highly worthwhile events - stimulating a lot of debate and interest.

General Education is not a new concept but it is obviously gaining increasing importance in the preparation of "3+3+4". As we observe from the institutions' preparation for their four-year curricula, General Education will become an important component of undergraduate study in Hong Kong.

One of the reasons of the change is the evolving expectations of the community towards our graduates - and the evolving needs of our graduates from what they obtain during their studies. The community expects that our graduates will be able to respond to changes and to solve problems professionally, flexibly and independently. These require strong foundation in knowledge, while at the same time emphasize on the quality of individuals, such as the competence in critical and innovative thinking, independent learning and interpersonal skills, forward-looking, and broader exposure. And our graduates expect to be equipped not just with knowledge but also with the enthusiasm and ability to tackle new issues, and to be well placed to engage in life long leaning and development. In short, preparation for the fortunes - and misfortunes - that await someone embarking on a career in the current day and age.

Over the years, our institutions have been doing well in nurturing different kinds of professionals and supporting the prosperity of Hong Kong. But the demands are greater nowadays - and fortuitously, with an extra year of study, we have the ability to respond. The education reform has presented us with a golden opportunity to strengthen our work in nurturing more capable individuals.

Of course, CUHK will say: I told you so - and we were doing just that until some organisation forced us to go from 4 to 3 years back in the early 1990s! Well, let's not look back. What that should mean is that CUHK is best placed to deliver under the new system, because you have the most experience.

Because of "3+3+4", the institutions are looking in great detail into their curricula. In doing so, it is useful to look beyond our system and gain global insights. The keynote speakers today will - I believe - tell us about the development of General Education in the Mainland China and the United States. In addition, the participating institutions will share their preliminary plans for General Education in 2012. I am sure that these and the Plenary Sessions will generate a lot of excellent ideas and exchanges which will help institutions in planning for the future undergraduate curricula.

Last but not least, on behalf of the UGC, I would like to thank Kenneth and his colleagues at CUHK for organizing this event. I wish today's event every success. ENDS