Generation 40s – 四十世代

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香港私立自資院校策略性角色(上)

信報財經新聞
教育講論
2017-03-04

何順文

在香港,非牟利私立自資(或稱民辦或獨立)高等院校的重要性,一直未受到應有的重視,政策落後於整個形勢與環球趨勢,也是對香港作為國際先進經濟體的一個諷刺和缺陷。政府曾提及的公私型雙軌發展模式有待急起直追。

本文將以上下篇探討一下,香港私立自資高等院校的策略性角色。

2000年前政府多年來一直奉行英式精英主義,嚴緊控制學位教育,只由政府資助(或稱公營)院校供應及壟斷,資助學士學額嚴重短缺。多年來適齡入學率維持少於兩成,也嚴重造成社會不公,違反了大學教育普及化的環球趨勢。

最近一項國際調查顯示只有兩成香港勞動人口有學士學位,大幅落後於其他先進經濟體的四成多。這個偏低教育程度未能應付一個知識型社會的需要。社會不斷演變前進,學歷愈低就業或流動的機會就愈低,人們不斷要自我增值。

發展起步遲須追趕

自2000年起,香港高等教育發生了基本的變化。2000年9月教統會在其(二十一世紀的教育藍圖)報告中,建議政府鼓勵私立專上院校經評審後頒發學位。報告指出發展私立大學能驅動社會各界為高教出資獻力,提供多元互補的教育機會,造福學生。另外,前特首董建華於2000年《施政報告》承諾「十年內讓高等教育的普及率達到60%」,但實際上大幅增加的學額不足兩成為學士水平。

奮鬥多年的私立樹仁學院,早年曾拒絕政府直接資助,堅持四年制及辦學自主,於2006年經評審獲準正名為「樹仁大學」,也是唯一一所校監不是特首的大學。事實上,早年私立的崇基、新亞、聯合、浸會及嶺南皆因接受政府直接資助而被迫放棄追求成為私立大學的理想。這些院校有得有失已成為歷史,但也令香港私立大學發展長期停滯不前。

為擴大認可學士學額而不動用大幅額外公帑,港府於2009年起根據〈專上學院條例〉(即第320章),透過批地和免息貸款來鼓勵更多民間辦學團體開辦自資學士課程,扶助部分具潛質的「學院」日後申請正名為私立「大學」。非牟利私立自資院校的復興,打破了多年來香港學位教育由公營院校主導的單一局面。

質素保證與獨特貢獻

自2009年起陸續有珠海、恒管、東華、明愛、明德、港專、能仁及宏恩等8所私立院校按上述條例註冊成立(另外還有兩所公立自資院校,即公大及VTC高等教育科技學院)。他們以自資形式每年提供合共13000個政府認可學士學額,令本地總入學率升至近三成多,減輕了本土學生的升學壓力,和提升社會公平與流動性。

在香港,能夠入讀學士課程的學生,必須達到文憑試33222的最低成績要求(約佔35%考生)。這些私立院校的校園設施、師資、師生比例、課程、教學、財政穩建性、畢業生出路與質素保證機制均受香港學術及職業資歷評審局(HKCAAVQ)的嚴格評審及監察,因此質素及成果有一定保證。部分私立院校更已具備大學體系、規模和國際教研與管治水平,也有明確計劃和時間表,以申請正名為一所大學。

私立自資院校有更多的自主、靈活性和創新,更着重優質小班教學與學生個人發展,補充了公校在教育模式上的不足,令香港高教的長遠發展更為多元化、平衡與可持續。但它們也有其挑戰與困難,待下期討論。

(待續)

撰文:何順文
恒生管埋學院校長


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「狀元」學校新征途

信報財經新聞
銘想英國
2017-02-18

陳思銘

Cardiff Sixth Form College有「全英最有腦學校」之稱,其學術成績之優異可想而知。這間英國排名第一的A Level學校,校園任何風吹草動自然都會受到矚目,早在幾個月前,有關Cardiff Sixth Form College的各種謠言猜測已經甚囂塵上,預示有大件事即將發生,未幾馬上傳來大地震:學校創辦人Yasmin Sarwar離開自己一手一腳建立並創出驕人成績的學校。

轟動「分手」消息

Yasmin Sarwar與Cardiff Sixth Form College「分手」的消息,成為近日英國教育界最沸騰的話題。兩者各奔向怎樣的前程,亦是全國目光所向。據悉Yasmin Sarwar已投身Oxford International College,將會舉辦嶄新的世界課程,推動新的教育理念。

至於Cardiff Sixth Form College,校長一職由Gareth Collier出任,學校並且將由Duke’s Education所收購。有問Duke’s Education何方神聖也?這個教育機構成立於1999年,本身有涉足出版界,不少人曾聞Duke’s Education之名,都是多得他們出版過的一本著名攻考牛津劍橋的攻略書籍So you want to go Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana…。事實上對於事業路迷惘的學生來說,Duke’s Education的存在有如黑暗中的明燈,在協助學生升學及就業發展上,有着出色的表現及豐富的經驗。近年來為各大小學校舉辦過升學及職業訓練講座、工作坊無數,也把好些學校外判出去的職業發展部門辦得有聲有色。集團近年銳意辦學,Cardiff Sixth Form College之前,被收歸旗下的學校已有3間,分別是位於倫敦北部的Fine Arts College;位於倫敦西部,專攻醫療科學科目的Acorn College;以及在Kent的Rochester Independent College。可以想像,能夠接手這間位於威爾斯首都的英國頂級名校,這企業集團當然也絕非泛泛之輩。

Cardiff Sixth Form College現有如此具規模及經驗的集團作後盾,加上企業化管理、新的資金和更充裕資源的情況下,會有一番什麼景象,大家都急不及待想知道。許多家長學生尤其關注的是,當學校走出Yasmin Sarwar所創造的神話,走向集團企業化,其學術上的佳績是否能夠保持?為了釐清各方疑惑,新校長Gareth Collier真的不遺餘力,更會親臨香港,講解學校變天後的最新情況,解答家長和學生的問題。

然而,大地震才剛震完,許多都仍是未知之數。想真正了解Cardiff Sixth Form College的何去何從,大家還是得耐心拭目以待它今後的表現。


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Trump may be bad news for US universities, but Chinese institutions could benefit

CommentInsight & Opinion
2017-02-06
Gerard A. Postiglione says Trump’s policies are already causing disruptions on campuses in the US, an opportunity competing Chinese universities could seize to get ahead. Overall, however, a deteriorating bilateral relationship will bring more harm than good
Like never before, universities have become instruments of competition between nations. Diplomatic relations can have major repercussions. When the US and China were on the verge of normalising relations in the 1970s, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping ( 鄧小平 ) became adamant that China should have a thousand talented scientists who would be recognised around the world. Ezra Vogel recounts the story of a 1978 phone call to president Jimmy Carter at 3am, Washington time, by his science adviser, who was visiting China at the time, because Deng wanted quick approval to send several hundred Chinese to study at American universities.

Since then, diplomatic relations between the US and China have steadily improved, through not without regular periodic strains over economic, political and military issues. Nevertheless, economic interdependence and finely tuned statecraft ensured that cool heads prevailed in times of stress, and economic progress for both countries continued for several decades.

Today, there are signs that US-China relations are in for a jolt. Newly installed US President Donald Trump has threatened to undo 40 years of US-China diplomacy and ignite a trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The leaders of both countries have a similar goal. For Trump, it is to “make America great again”. For President Xi Jinping (習近平), it is to rejuvenate China and restore it to its place when it led the world. While China has declared its support for deepening economic globalisation, the new US administration has turned inward to save jobs for workers who fell victim to what journalist Thomas Friedman calls the “flattening world”.

Trump’s vitriol was initially met with anger from Beijing. That soon turned to laughter at what the Chinese press perceived as amateur statesmanship. However, the possibility of new tariffs to block access to the US market is now being met by plans for a Chinese economic pivot. If tensions continue, there could be several potential consequences for universities.

First, while US universities are now scrambling to become sanctuaries for immigrant students and safe havens for scholars needing rescue from visa-banned countries, American universities and programmes in China may also feel pressure from a Trump administration. The political atmosphere at Chinese universities has tightened, but American campuses and programmes in China continue to find ways to get round internet restrictions and operate with little interference. Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress are already harassing American campuses in China and we can expect more of the same from Trump Republicans.

Second, Trump’s contention that China is stealing American jobs, even though the decision to transfer jobs was made by US corporations, may come to affect universities. Chinese scientists who graduate from US universities and join the American workforce may face a backlash, or even tougher visa restrictions, if they are perceived as taking jobs from American graduates. Trump stokes suspicion about the Chinese as hackers, which may create an even more toxic atmosphere for Chinese scholars studying and visiting US universities, especially in fields such as computer science, a field that China sees as being essential to its own economic restructuring.

Third, former president Barack Obama’s initiative to send thousands of US students to China for language study will become less popular in an environment of China-bashing under Trump. The aim of the Obama initiative – to build trust and understanding – could be severely compromised.

Fourth, the illiberal turn of Trump’s policies, including the higher entry barriers for scholars from majority-Muslim countries, may make young scholars and scientists from some countries give more serious consideration to the long-term advantages of studying at a Chinese university.

Fifth, while Trump has weakened the resonance of liberalism and globalisation in American universities, China stands to gain as it takes a lead in economic globalisation with its “One Belt, One Road” initiative and funding mechanisms such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Furthermore, the elimination of Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) proposal has opened up a leadership void.

With as many college-educated citizens as the US by 2020, several globally competitive universities, and generous funding for attracting notable scientists for visits, China stands to gain. Much energy at American universities will be focused on fending off Trumpism, amid an international atmosphere made unsteady by possible changes in US policy in Europe and Asia. China’s top-tier universities may advance in global visibility. China is already the third most popular destination for international students.

Sixth, the wild card is tension in the South China Sea. For China, the Taiwan issue is non-negotiable and territorial claims are a matter for countries that have claims. Should this situation intensify, educational and academic exchanges would surely fall victim to any conflict. For example, China may restrict the Fulbright programme, as it has done in the past. Such a move could lead to a tit-for-tat tussle with the Confucian Institutes in the US.

Moreover, Trump’s reversal of the TTP has weakened Southeast Asian nations’ balancing act between China and the US. The pattern of overseas study of Southeast Asian students would shift even more to China.

There will be no winners in a changing relationship between the US and China; universities in both countries could suffer. Nevertheless, the advantage could go to China if it continues to invest heavily in teaching and research, and further its internationalisation. With increased autonomy, China’s research universities will not only help to restructure the economy by injecting more innovation into the mix, but also extend its influence on international higher education.

The US-China relationship under the Trump administration will surely test the autonomy of universities in both countries, and the potential of the academic community to be a force for rational discussion. This is an opportunity for universities to distinguish themselves not only as instruments of national competition but also as institutions for international peace. Universities in both countries may not be able to eliminate the confrontations that may be in store under a Trump administration, but there is much they can do to keep US-China relations on an even keel until 2020.

Gerard A. Postiglione is professor and chair of higher education at the University of Hong Kong


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從新高中課程看科學教育的失落

信報財經新聞
時事評論
2016年12月10日

黃家樑

日前,經濟合作與發展組織(OECD)公布學生能力國際評估計劃(PISA)的研究結果,香港在科學、閱讀、數學能力三方面再次落後新加坡,其中港生在科學的表現更比上屆遜色,評分由上屆的555分下滑至523分,排名由第二位大跌至第九位,令社會各界為之震驚。

其實,熟悉中學課程發展的人士對此結果應該不會感到意外,因為自從2009年新高中學制推行後,4個必修科佔據課程結構的主要地位,選修科重要性大減,而且學生大多只選修兩科,未能同時修讀化學、物理和生物3個理科,科學教育的成績自然每況愈下。

由於新高中學制設計失誤,學生須同時在4個必修科取得佳績,方能入讀大學心儀學系,一些精於數理科目而不擅長語文通識者,往往被拒諸大學之門。

再者,中文科與通識科的考評準則和擬卷深度飄忽不定,而評分過程亦帶相當主觀色彩,令不少考生面對這些「死亡科目」時,患得患失,壓力大增。

就筆者在教育前線所見,高中學生被迫把時間和精力放在4個主科之上,形成重主修科而輕選修科的情況;精於數理的學生也被迫減少對數理科目的投入,以應付中文和通識。

不少學校為了提高學生入讀大學比率,紛紛已在初中作課程調適,即加強語文和通識的訓練,科學科目自然遭到冷遇,成績或多或少也受到影響。

所謂事實勝於雄辯,新高中學生選讀3個選修科目的比率由第一屆中四的51%一直下跌至第七屆的29%【表1】,可見教育局當初3個選修科的構思不切實際,能夠同時修讀3個選修科的已非主流。

此外,退修情況也極為嚴重,幾乎每一屆選修3科的學生到中六時也會大減一半,所以近年的中六學生竟然只有17%或18%選修3個科目。

影響所及,高中學生修讀物理、化學和生物等理科的比率由2009年的7.07%,一直下降至2015年的4.23%,修讀學生跌幅近半【表2】。相比以往會考年代,絕大部分理科生同時選修3大理科,實不可同日而語。

另一個不可忽視的現象是,數學延伸單元和綜合科學的修讀人數與比例也同樣大幅下跌【表3】。眾所周知,物理、化學和生物科的知識相輔相成,數學延伸單元二的內容對修讀物理也有相當促進作用,學生未能同時修讀這些科目,對理科科目學習會否帶來打擊,值得進一步研究。

面對科學教育的危機,教育當局應針對上述種種現象,對新高中課程結構和內容作深度調整,否則問題只會一直延續,不但令政府推動創新科技發展時舉步維艱,長遠更會影響香港的競爭力和人力資源質素。

黃家樑
教育評議會執委


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Hong Kong universities are more than holding their own in Asia

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2016-12-08

Thomas Barlow

Thomas Barlow says global league tables that show local institutions slipping do not tell the whole story

A revolution is afoot in the production of knowledge and ideas. The East Asian region now spends more on industrial research and development than either North America or Europe, and the region now matches North America for the number of scientific and scholarly publications produced annually.

These are exciting developments for Asian societies. However, such changes are not yet reflected in university rankings. Fewer than 100 of the top 500 universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities [1] are based in Asia.

Global league tables, which emphasise historical performance and measures with long lead times, such as Nobel Prizes, tend to favour established institutions. Rankings based upon surveys are also susceptible to subjective impressions that often outlast their original justifications. But a shift is under way, which will make it increasingly difficult for Western institutions to maintain their present global standings.

In our latest Asia 100 ranking, we assessed 900 universities across East Asia and Australasia. That’s 400 universities in China, around 200 in Japan, more than 80 in South Korea, more than 70 in Taiwan, 40 in Australia – plus institutions in Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. In our methodology, as in other rankings, we use multiple metrics to measure research performance. However, we do a couple of things differently. For instance, we rank universities in 60 different disciplines rather than using aggregate data, and we rank according to recent, rather than long-term, performance.

Our findings are incredibly positive for Hong Kong. Overall, six of our top 100 institutions across the region are situated in this city, and Hong Kong universities lead in several disciplines. For example, City University excels in applied mathematics. We rate Polytechnic University as the top in Asia for research in management. The Chinese University of Hong Kong is very strong in oncology and other clinical sciences. And the University of Hong Kong is ranked among the top 20 universities in the region in more than a third of the 60 disciplines we analysed.

This is important. The strength of Hong Kong’s higher education system is vital to the city’s future. Yet, at a time when universities in mainland China have been rapidly increasing their research capabilities and rising inexorably in global league tables, it has sometimes seemed as if Hong Kong’s institutions are slipping behind. Fortunately, our analysis shows that Hong Kong’s universities are, in fact, holding their own, while drawing two important points of distinction with other Asian institutions.

First, relative to their scale, most of the leading institutions in Hong Kong maintain a very broad portfolio of research capabilities. This weakens their capacity to shine in individual fields, but means they are maximising the chance for all students to study in a genuinely research-informed environment. Second, Hong Kong’s universities also do much more in the humanities, arts, and social sciences than is typically true at other East Asian institutions.

In this regard, Hong Kong’s university scholars are much more likely to contribute to Western cultural traditions and scholarly networks than is true for mainland Chinese, South Korean, or Japanese universities. If this, in turn, implies a sensibility that is conveyed to students, one should expect Hong Kong’s university graduates to be especially open to the world and understanding of other cultures – core attributes not only for trade and business but also for promoting harmony between nations.

This is not to suggest there isn’t room for improvement. Hong Kong’s universities remain surprisingly low in overall scale of research investment and research output relative to the leading organisations in China, Japan, Singapore and Australia. But it should reinforce the idea that the city should be proud of its institutions.

As Asia evolves into a powerhouse for research and development and technological innovation, Hong Kong has the potential to develop its higher education system into a beacon of learning and discovery.

Dr Thomas Barlow is the publisher of the Asia 100 ranking of university research performance