The conclusions and recommendations which follow in Chapters 43 and 44 build upon our analysis (Section H), but are largely concerned with the future. In this brief introduction we give a broad survey of the context in which our HEIs will operate and develop.

Hong Kong is entering a period of rapid political and social change. The transfer of sovereignty will probably accelerate the growth in links with China and the movement of graduate labour between China and Hong Kong, although both are, of course, already occurring. This extension of our relationship with China is in some senses only a local manifestation of the globalisation of high level labour, in which movement of workers across boundaries, either physically or via computer links, is becoming commonplace.

Two advantages which Hong Kong graduates possess in making their way in the "global village" are that they are already used to working in two cultures (East and West) and that they speak the international language of both business and science - English. We should not, however, be complacent about this - some of our neighbours can make similar claims - and we need constantly to reinforce these attributes, particularly within higher education.

An aspect of the extension of Hong Kong's external links which we should exploit is the opportunity for Hong Kong to become a regional centre, not just in business, but in higher education. There will be an increasing demand for initial, high quality, tertiary education from young people in south China and other Pacific-rim countries and, perhaps more important, for postgraduate work and CPE.

We shall increasingly in future live in a knowledge-based economy in which the amount of knowledge and our capacity to store and retrieve it is ever increasing, but the period for which particular pieces of knowledge are relevant or valuable is commonly decreasing. CPE will grow (in Hong Kong the number of students on CPE courses already exceeds the number in initial higher education by a factor of 3). CPE will partly be required as an answer to the knowledge explosion, but even more as a facilitator of career change as old industries diminish and new ones grow.

As well as changes of a political and social nature, and those caused by the increasing demand for "through life" education, our HEIs will have to accommodate to quite different teaching methods which utilise the growing capacities of IT. We do not see the "global village" incorporating the "global university", but we do see the ready availability of material and courses from outside Hong Kong leading to our HEIs operating in a more competitive environment than they have done hitherto.

The one factor which is likely to be dominant in the development of our HEIs over the next decade will be perceptions of quality. If they are regarded as providers of high quality teaching and as engaged in high quality research, then they have a good chance of becoming regional centres for educational services and substantial exporters on the global net. All of this does, however, have to be set in a scenario in which questions about the cost of higher education by government and the taxpayer are likely to become increasingly strident.

It is within this context of regionalism and internationalism, educational provision throughout life, the opportunities provided by the electronic revolution and increasing concern about quality and cost that we now present our conclusions and recommendations.

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