In dialogue with great minds

CUHK hosts four international and national conventions to step up collaboration among higher education leaders

The CUHK Diamond Jubilee University Presidents’ Forum was a major event held as part of the University’s diamond jubilee celebrations. Held in early December, this signature globally facing event underscored CUHK’s unique role in bridging China and the world and reinforced Hong Kong’s international standing as an education hub.

Themed “Innovation and Edupreneurship: The Shifting Research and Education Agenda”, the Forum celebrated the University’s vibrant partnerships with other institutions of higher learning and research in Hong Kong, the mainland, and overseas. It brought together 32 university presidents from 18 countries and regions across six continents, with more than 120 other global academic leaders and key stakeholders in attendance.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Education Dr Choi Yuk-lin, extended a warm welcome to the academic leaders from diverse cultural backgrounds at this esteemed intellectual gathering. She also mentioned the government’s initiative of developing Hong Kong into an international higher education hub, as announced in the 2023 Policy Address, and highlighted Hong Kong’s competitive edge in education, including a high degree of internationalisation, significant public investment in education, quality research and teaching, and the support of the mainland.

Professor Rocky S. Tuan, CUHK’s Vice-Chancellor and President, emphasised the dynamic nature of academia amid technological advancement, evolving societal needs, and a dynamic global economy. He said, “As global university leaders, we have the unique responsibility to shape the future of education, research, and innovation in response to the changing landscape.”

The keynote address was delivered by leading venture capitalist Nisa Leung, Managing Partner at Qiming Venture Partners. Focusing on China’s healthcare market, Leung pinpointed critical issues for biotechnology development, such as the impact of venture capital on improving the affordability of innovative drugs.

Leung also shared insights into China’s healthcare market. “Biopharma in China is becoming an industry that could have a significant impact on the global biopharma value chain,” she said. “In 2021, approvals for new-drug applications from local players in China surpassed those from multinational companies for the first time.”

Subsequent panels witnessed lively exchanges among global higher education leaders including University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor Professor Irene Tracey, University of California Los Angeles Chancellor Professor Gene D. Block, Peking University President Professor Gong Qihuang, Nagoya University President Professor Naoshi Sugiyama, University of Toronto President Professor Meric Gertler, and University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater.

The profound impact of innovation and entrepreneurship on teaching and learning, research agendas, external partnerships, and university governance was explored. In the panel discussion about reimagining higher education in the age of disruption brought by hybrid learning, generative AI (GenAI) and new pedagogical approaches, the leaders discussed how universities can offer flexible, affordable and accessible education options. 

Professor Sugiyama opined on the importance of data science and new pedagogical approaches in reskilling the future-ready workforce for Industry 4.0. “Toyota is using virtual reality in its training and logistics centres. In Nagoya University, our medical students learn three-dimensional vascular anatomy from 3D-printed models.”

They also discussed the role of universities in knowledge curation and the ethical challenges brought by GenAI such as academic integrity. Professor Deborah Terry, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Queensland, said: “Online resources make education more accessible. For instance, GenAI facilitates students’ learning as it generates compelling output in response to users’ prompts. We should help students navigate in the age of GenAI. How we evaluate students’ sensible use of GenAI is crucial.”

After the Forum, some delegates visited CUHK-Shenzhen for the World University Leadership Summit themed “Global Collaboration for Transformative Education and Innovation” on 11 December to examine ways to strengthen collaboration between universities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the world. They also toured the campus and visited the headquarters of electric vehicle giant BYD.

32 university presidents of leading universities from around the world and members of CUHK staff convened on campus for the CUHK Diamond Jubilee University Presidents’ Forum

The University Presidents’ Forum served as a platform for university leaders to share insights on the evolving role of universities in an ever-changing academic landscape. Aligned to the university’s commitment to fuse Chinese and Western academic traditions it also bolstered CUHK’s partnerships with several key partners.

The event was soon followed by other high-level events on campus. The Sino-US University Presidents’ Dialogue, co-organised by CUHK and Peking University was centred on the theme “The Shared Future of Sino-US Universities through Collaboration and Partnership” and drew the participation of over 30 senior representatives of leading universities and institutions in China and the US.

China’s Vice-Minister of Education, Professor Chen Jie, joined as a guest speaker. Coming just weeks after a meeting in San Francisco between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden, it was a timely opportunity for leaders of major higher educational institutions in both countries to share thoughts on stepping up collaboration on global challenges.

In his welcoming remarks Professor Tuan said: “Higher education plays a pivotal role in promoting international exchanges and cooperation, particularly in today’s world marked by geopolitical tensions and mounting global challenges.” That sentiment was echoed by Peking University President Professor Gong Qihuang, who said that “academic cooperation and knowledge sharing between Chinese and American universities should continue regardless of global changes”.

The dialogue featured two panel discussions: “Defining the Role for Universities in Sustainable Development” and “Exploring Sino-US Models for University Collaboration”. These delved into the role of universities in advancing green research and technologies, fostering international collaboration to address climate change, and explored successful partnerships between Chinese and American universities. CUHK’s 60 years of ties with US academia, were highlighted during the Dialogue. Today, CUHK’s student exchange partnerships with over 50 US universities facilitate cross-cultural learning experiences.

CUHK and Peking University co-organised the Sino-US University Presidents’ Dialogue on 10 December. From left: Professor Rocky S. Tuan, Professor Chen Jie, China’s Vice Minister of Education, and Peking University President Professor Gong Qihuang
Guests and representatives at the Annual Meeting of the Association of University Presidents of China hosted by CUHK

The University also organised the 2023 Meeting of the Association of University Presidents of China (AUPC) and the Forum on Building World-class Universities on 10 December. The event was supported by the Ministry of Education and the Education Bureau of the Hong Kong government, with speeches by Beijing’s Professor Chen and Hong Kong’s Dr Choi to representatives from the Ministry of Education, and presidents of the Association’s member universities.

CUHK Vice-Chancellor Professor Tuan discussed the future development paths of Chinese universities with delegates from Fudan University, Harbin Institute of Technology, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Nanjing University, Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, The University of Hong Kong, Tsinghua University, The University of Science and Technology of China, Xi’an Jiaotong University and Zhejiang University. Heads of the 12 participating universities attended the Forum, themed “Strategies for Talent Cultivation and Innovation of First-class Universities upon Resumption of Normalcy”, sharing insights into recent educational developments.

By Jenny Lau


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