Home > UGC Publications > Speeches and Articles > 2011 > Chairman's Speech on "UGC Dinner cum Presentation Ceremony of the UGC Teaching Award"

Chairman's Speech on "UGC Dinner cum Presentation Ceremony of the UGC Teaching Award"

UGC Dinner cum Presentation Ceremony
of the UGC Teaching Award
8 September 2011

Welcoming Remarks by Chairman, UGC

Council Chairmen, Heads, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening and a warm welcome to this dinner reception to celebrate the excellence of the candidates and winners of the UGC Teaching Award. This evening, we are going to present the inaugural 2011 awards to two outstanding academics in the UGC sector. I am glad to see the great turnout today, all coming for the common goal of celebrating and promoting teaching excellence.

2. I announced at last year's UGC Dinner Celebrating Teaching Excellence the establishment of the UGC Teaching Award. Since then, we have successfully established this sector-wide award scheme, received 16 nominations from the institutions and identified the two awardees for this award. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the eight UGC-funded institutions, Members of the Selection Panel, and most importantly, the outstanding staff for making this Award Scheme a success.

3. Teaching is the core mission of all institutions. The UGC has always attached great importance to quality teaching and learning - 75% of our Block Grants are for teaching purposes. On top of that, we have invested substantial resources in system-wide initiatives on teaching and learning, such as the $113 million Teaching Development Grants in the 2009-12 triennium and funding of over $100 million to institutions over the past five years to facilitate the institutions in weaving "outcomes" into their new four-year curriculum. We have also established the Quality Assurance Council to review the quality assurance mechanisms of UGC-funded institutions for taught programmes at degree level or above.

4. However, as in many jurisdictions, many higher education institutions and academic staff feel that they are assessed by their research performance, rather than their teaching excellence. And it is unfortunately true that it is much easier to assess excellent research than excellent teaching, and that all "league tables" are based on research. But this is an unhealthy trend and it needs to be arrested. The UGC has, in our "Aspirations for the Higher Education System in Hong Kong" report issued last year, emphasized the importance of and the need for revitalizing teaching. We strongly feel the need for institutions to focus once again on the quality of teaching and learning, which is the core mission and duty of all UGC-funded institutions.

5. To take positive steps to implement our recommendations in the area of teaching, we have, in the recent Academic Development Proposals exercise, included a "focus on teaching quality" as the key theme embedded in the evaluation criteria of institutions' proposals. The UGC Teaching Award is another important step to promote quality teaching.

6. Some may say that the UGC itself through our funding mechanism is driving institutions to chase research dollar. It is inevitable that research must be based on competition and excellence, and this is why the UGC has recently introduced measures to allocate research funding more effectively with a view to promoting excellent research. But an emphasis on research must not make teaching a secondary mission of the institutions. Institutions are both the creators and disseminators of knowledge and hence it is their duty to educate students effectively.

7. Motivating staff to feel that teaching is valued by institutions is equally important. Institutional staff assessments need to allow teaching to carry its full weight. I do hope that the leaders of our institutions will enable teaching staff of all ranks to feel that they are valued members of the institutions.

8. With the implementation of the new "3+3+4" academic structure and the admission of the double cohorts in 2012, teaching in the UGC sector will no doubt become doubly challenging. There is an urgent need for the UGC, institutions and faculty members to work together to promote and enhance the quality of teaching, so that the sector as a whole will rise to the challenge and scale new heights. I am sure the awardees of the UGC Teaching Award, who will become "Ambassadors of Good Teaching" in the sector, will make valuable and significant contributions in this process.

9. In a couple of minutes, Professor William Kirby will announce the Award's results.

10. Before I pass the floor to Professor Kirby, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the 16 nominees of the Award. You have been nominated for your outstanding performance and achievements, and the nomination itself is an important recognition of your contribution. May I invite all of you here to give the 16 outstanding nominees a big round of applause.

11. Lastly, a personal note. I will soon be handing over the Chairmanship of the UGC to my successor, Mr Edward Cheng. Working in the UGC has been a most rewarding experience, and I am privileged to have been given the chance to serve the Hong Kong higher education sector. In the past four and a half years, the UGC has completed the Higher Education Review 2010 which I must say was one of the most demanding yet rewarding undertakings of the UGC. To enhance the institutions' research capability, we successfully lobbied the Government to establish the landmark $18-billion Research Endowment Fund and secured additional RPg places to put forth initiatives including the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme. On teaching quality, we have successfully completed the first round of QAC quality audits which have provided institutions with practical suggestions and advice on ways further to enhance students' learning experience.

12. All these achievements have been made possible by the dedicated Members of the UGC and - of course - our institutions and their outstanding scholars who have worked closely together in our quest for excellence in higher education. I owe all of you my gratitude, and hope our paths cross again in the future. Lastly, I wish you all, especially the participants of the UGC Teaching Award, an enjoyable and memorable evening. Thank you.