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Internationalisation and engagement with Mainland China

In an age of rapid globalisation and intense regional and international competition, the UGC sees internationalisation and engagement with Mainland China as the key to Hong Kong's future, and believes that it should be actively pursued by the UGC-funded universities.

To map the way forward and set priorities for internationalisation and engagement with Mainland China, the UGC convened a series of strategic dialogues in 2012 with the Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM) and the universities. Through the dialogues, the UGC and the universities have achieved better understanding on the importance of the two initiatives and the best practices in pursuing them, having regard to institutional autonomy and the universities' plans and policies that are already in place.

After completion of the strategic dialogues, the UGC has identified a number of strengths of the universities in developing the two initiatives, including, among others, strong leadership, international faculty, substantial percentage of non-local students and relative open-mindedness of local students to non-local students. At the same time, there are tremendous opportunities for universities to further develop the two initiatives.

In order to motivate the UGC-funded universities to enhance their pursuit of internationalisation and engagement with Mainland China with a view to embedding the initiative as part and parcel of the culture and mindset of the entire UGC sector, the UGC rolled out a “tripartite” funding scheme (involving funding from the Education Bureau, UGC and the eight universities) of $30 million to support four new initiatives on internationalisation in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 academic years. Four initiatives originated from the strategic dialogues were implemented. The initiatives included (i) funding 94 student-initiated projects or initiatives that encourage multi-cultural integration; (ii) setting up a Hong Kong Pavilion in international education conferences to promote Hong Kong's higher education sector as a united entity; (iii) establishing a sector-wide search engine to provide easier access to information of universities and programmes they offer for prospective students; and (iv) subsidising 1 063 financially-needy students to travel to places outside Hong Kong for exchange activities. Universities responded positively to the scheme.

In the 2016-19 triennium, the UGC has set aside $17.5 million (to be matched with funds from universities) under a new one-off teaching and learning funding scheme to incentivise universities in exploring and developing further in the enhancement of internationalisation and engagement with the Mainland. Emphasis has been put on the development and implementation of (i) strategies for the broader enhancement of internationalisation and engagement with the Mainland; (ii) holistic strategies/programmes to enhance student integration; and (iii) strategies/programmes to enrich the learning experience of commuting local students. $12 million has also been earmarked for universities to continue to set up a Hong Kong Pavilion in international education conferences.

Hong Kong's future critically depends upon the international capabilities and outlook of our students. Attracting quality non-local students to study in Hong Kong will further internationalise our higher education sector and increase the exposure of our local students. Moreover, attracting and retaining non-local talents to live and work in Hong Kong will enhance the quality of our population and the overall competitiveness of Hong Kong in the long run.