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Welcoming Remarks by Chairman, UGC at the Presentation Ceremony of the 2017 UGC Teaching Award (7.9.2017)

2017 UGC Teaching Award - 7 September 2017
Welcoming Remarks by Chairman, University Grants Committee

Council Chairmen, Heads of Universities, Honourable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening. Welcome to this presentation ceremony to celebrate with us the teaching excellence in the University Grants Committee (UGC) sector, and to honour the recipients of UGC Teaching Award.

2. The annual UGC Teaching Award offers a great platform for promoting and honouring our outstanding academics' efforts and achievements in teach-ing. Since the Award's introduction in 2011, 14 individual awards and two team awards have been granted. With the continuous support of our universities, this year we have received 21 nominations. We are glad to see that all of the nominees are passionate teachers who are dedicated to teaching excellence and maximising the learning outcomes of students.

3. The past year has been another busy year for UGC. Riding on the good foundation of our strong sector, our universities have continued to perform well internationally and achieved excellent rankings. While international rankings have their limitations, our universities' consistently high rankings demonstrate the regional influence of the UGC sector and beyond. Let's take the opportunity tonight to celebrate the sector's achievements, and, teaching excellence in particular.

4. I am sure you appreciate the fact that UGC values teaching and learning the same way we value research. The majority of the block grant to universities is intended to support good and effective teaching. Under the block grant, there is an annual provision of the Teaching Development and Language Enhancement Grant which is dedicated to enhancing teaching quality and language proficiency of students. Apart from the recurrent funding, for the 2016-19 triennium, we have launched a new funding scheme to support teaching and learning projects under the themes of innovation, enhancement of student learning experience, enhancement of internationalisation and engagement with Mainland China, as well as language enhancement. I am pleased that our universities' response to the scheme has been overwhelming. We have received a total of 89 proposals, all of which are timely initiatives formulated to address the pressing need of the higher education sector. It is also very encouraging to see that our universities are collaborating in these proposals, with a view to maximising and further enhancing the benefits for the sector by working together. After a rigorous review process, the Assessment Panel of the scheme has selected 38 proposals, with a total project cost of about $256 million, for funding. This again demonstrates our strong support for teaching and learning. I hope that our universities will, in response, continue to focus on this important aspect.

5. You may also have noticed that, pursuant to a key recommendation of the 'Governance in UGC-funded Higher Education Institutions in Hong Kong' Report, we have been working earnestly with our universities to establish a written accountability framework. Specifically, the framework aims to enhance accountability and transparency of our universities in the performance and commitment to improvement in key areas of activities, which include, inter alia, teaching and learning. We are gratified to see that we have the support of our universities on this. I trust this will help ensure public confidence in the UGC sector while guaranteeing institutional autonomy.

6. Our higher education sector involves a wide spectrum of stakeholders. It has always been my belief that effective implementation of policy changes or initia-tives relies on good communication with the stakeholders. We have commenced earlier an all-round communication plan for enhancing stakeholders' understanding of our work through various channels. With the support from universities and other stakeholders, UGC will be able to continue its role as the buffer between the Government and the universities, facilitating universities in achieving their different ambitions. As we know, the Government under the leadership of our CE has included education as one of its policy priorities and we look forward to her policy address in October. UGC together with our funded Universities will play our role in ensuing Hong Kong continues to prosper for the well-being of our younger generation and our community.

7. It is now time for me to extend to all nominees and awardees my warmest congratulations. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the universities, as well as the Chairman and Members of the Selection Panel for making this year's Award a success.

8. Finally, I wish you all a great evening. I also wish the universities and academics a successful academic year ahead. Thank you.