Welcome to the fifteenth edition of CUHK in Focus.

With the new year just around the corner, it is time for us to take stock of the progress the University has made in advancing the goals set out in the CUHK Strategic Plan 2021-2025.

2022 has been a challenging year for all of us with our city still under the shadow of the pandemic. In response to the onset of the fifth wave in the first half of the year, we resorted to hybrid learning and teaching and adopted strict social distancing measures to safeguard the health of the University community. Thankfully, with the fifth wave receding and the gradual easing of pandemic restrictions in Hong Kong, we were able to resume face-to-face classes in the 2022-23 academic year. With the recent lifting of more restrictions and rules, I am excited to see more faces on campus and the vibrancy of our in-person community return.

Exemplary education in the new normal

Despite the impact of the pandemic, CUHK has been able to maintain the highest standard of academic excellence throughout the year. Major initiatives to create an enriching student experience are in place. Our flagship co-operative education programme, Co-op@CUHK, was launched officially. The university-wide, work-integrated education programme, also the first of its kind in Hong Kong, received very encouraging results in its inaugural cohort, providing more than 100 students with the opportunity to undertake full-time, full-paid job placements in over 60 partner organisations spanning a range of sectors. The programme redefines university partnerships with industry and is set to be a centrepiece of our undergraduate experience in years to come.

Co-op@CUHK bridges the gap between classroom learning and the demands of the 21st-century workplace.

The current academic year also sees the introduction of two national education undergraduate courses to promote students’ understanding of our country and Hong Kong’s place in the broader constitutional context. The courses, together with periodic lectures, flag raising ceremonies that take place weekly throughout term time and on major holidays, and other important initiatives, aim to increase the awareness of national security issues and cultivate a sense of national identity across our student community. I am happy to report that, most recently, a number of CUHK students brought home the championship, third prize and merit prize in the individual category and the third and merit prizes in the group category at the 12th Hong Kong Schools National Affairs Knowledge Contest (第十二屆全港學生中國國情知識大賽). Congratulations on their outstanding performance in such a meaningful competition and I hope their success will inspire more CUHK students to deepen their understanding of the national context.

CUHK held a flag-raising ceremony on National Day.

From strength to strength in challenging times

As challenging as it was, 2022 has been a highly rewarding year for CUHK on many fronts. We achieved the best admissions results ever by admitting the highest proportion (57%) of students who attained 5** in four or more subjects in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination among all JUPAS-participating institutions territory-wide, including seven out of the nine perfect scorers. We also celebrated very strong demand from mainland students and an impressive rebound in international student numbers both in terms of full degree and exchange programmes.

University members have continued to make us proud with their remarkable achievements in scholarly pursuits, as well as innovation and research. I would like to congratulate Professor Raymond Yeung Wai-ho, Choh-Ming Li Professor of Information Engineering, and Co-Director of CUHK’s Institute of Network Coding, on being elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors recently for his profound contributions to the field of information theory and network coding. Professor Xie Zuowei, Choh-Ming Li Professor of Chemistry, also received the Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In addition, three of our professors in the Faculty of Science, Professor Tan Yen Joe from the Earth System Science Programme, Professor Yeung Ying-yeung from the Department of Chemistry, and Professor Li Quan from the Department of Physics, were presented with prestigious awards from the Croucher Foundation. I am deeply grateful to Professor Yeung, Professor Xie and all other members of the University who have gained local and worldwide recognition during the year for their commitment to “Excellence with Purpose and Responsibility”.

2022 has been our most successful year on record measured by our continued upward trajectory in world university rankings. We attained a global ranking of 38th in the prestigious QS World University Rankings, our best in over a decade. We also made history by achieving our best result ever in the 2023 Times Higher Education World University Rankings (45th in the world) and the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities Rankings 2023 (1st in Hong Kong). Such impressive results demonstrate CUHK’s continued influence and leading position in the global higher education community and are a testament to the strong dedication to learning, teaching and research of members of the CUHK community.

Deepening partnerships

We have been heightening our impact by partnering across society. We were particularly thankful for the generous donation of HK$150 million from the Li Ka Shing Foundation to drive innovative biomedical research in the Faculty of Medicine through the “Passion for Perfection Scheme”. Last week, I was delighted to participate in an education forum to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tin Ka Ping Foundation, where I joined representatives from other publicly funded universities to discuss topics on moral education. The Tin Ka Ping Foundation made a significant donation of HK$15 million to support the launch of the “Replant Spiritual Roots, Nourish Our Talents” programme of New Asia College. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all our benefactors and donors who have been lending us invaluable support in our quest for excellence.

New Asia College received a HK$15 million donation from Tin Ka Ping Foundation to support Chinese cultural projects, scholarships and bursaries, and the construction of a new hostel.

2022 also marks a new chapter in our collaboration with the HKSAR government and mainland partners to create a far-reaching impact on our city and our country. In October 2022, the University made a landmark submission to the public consultation process ahead of the Chief Executive’s Inaugural Policy Address by presenting a range of practical recommendations for how local universities can contribute further to the city and the nation and the unique role of Hong Kong’s universities under the One Country Two Systems framework. Last week, I was honoured to speak at the Global I&T Summit organised by the Innovation and Technology Commission, which brought together higher education leaders from Hong Kong and around the world, as well as top researchers, entrepreneurs and policymakers, to exchange insights on the development of Hong Kong’s innovation and technology ecosystem. With the government set to unveil the Hong Kong I&T Development Blueprint, the Summit served as an important occasion to promote cross-sector collaborations to drive Hong Kong’s development into an international I&T hub.

CUHK made a formal submission as part of the public consultation process ahead of the Chief Executive of the HKSAR’s Inaugural Policy Address.

We have also been fostering collaborations with partners across the country. The CUHK Shanghai Centre, opening in the 2022-23 academic year, will serve as an important platform for academic, alumni and entrepreneurial collaborations in the Yangtze River Delta. We are eagerly preparing to set up a Belt and Road alliance to promote the development of traditional Chinese medicine with our mainland partners. Our collaboration with CUHK-Shenzhen has ascended to the next level with the launch of a collaborative double major programme that will span both campuses. Earlier this month, CUHK announced the co-establishment of the Joint Institute of Advanced Materials and Green Energy Research with Great Bay University in Dongguan.  I am eager to see our collective effort with the government and our mainland partners bring more positive contributions to our city and our country.

CUHK and Great Bay University signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the establishment of the Great Bay University – The Chinese University of Hong Kong Joint Institute of Advanced Materials and Green Energy Research.

In gratitude and appreciation

All these amazing results have only been possible with the commitment of the brilliant Team CUHK. To show appreciation and gratitude to all colleagues who have been working tirelessly to contribute to the University’s missions, we celebrated the Staff Appreciation Day 2022 last Friday. All full-time staff should have received a desk calendar thoughtfully designed by the Committee on Positive Workplace and Staff Development. The calendar features a collection of entries of the Positive Workplace Theme Card Design Competition 2022 with quotes and mottos contributed by colleagues to promote a positive work attitude. I hope this practical gift will come handy whenever you need a word of encouragement to remind you to live every single day of the new year in optimism and gratitude.

I would also like to express my deepest thanks to all students, alumni, partners and friends for your support and commitment, without which 2022 would not have become another harvest year for CUHK. We have prepared a short video highlighting CUHK’s achievements in 2022:

With Christmas and the New Year drawing near, may I wish you a holiday season filled with peace and happiness. I look forward to welcoming all of you back on campus in 2023 as we commence our 60th anniversary celebrations.  Here is to more new shared successes in the new year!

Professor Rocky S. Tuan
Vice-Chancellor and President
The Chinese University of Hong Kong