City University of Hong KongBeyond Boundaries: nurturing academic excellence and citizenship from school to university and beyond

Beyond Boundaries: nurturing academic excellence and citizenship from school to university and beyond

The eighth instalment of City University of Hong Kong’s Beyond Boundaries series features an interview with the leader of Diocesan Girls' School in Hong Kong

Universities are known the world over as centres for academic excellence. But there is an increasing awareness among higher education leaders that their institutions must also be responsible for cultivating well-rounded graduates – citizens who give back to society.

As president of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) for more than 10 years, Way Kuo takes a particular interest in the challenges facing contemporary education around the world and has published several books on the subject. 

He is also known for his engineering research and spent time working in laboratories in the US before joining CityU, an international university that emphasises the integration of research and teaching. 

The university has a strong focus on diversity through cross-cultural studies, and it was Kuo’s ambition to explore this theme further in Beyond Boundaries, an interview series produced by CityU.

For the eighth instalment of the series, Kuo met with Stella Lau, head of the Diocesan Girls' School (DGS) in Hong Kong, to hear her experiences and vision for the school. 

The school’s motto is “daily giving service”, Lau explained. “Of course, we are after academic pursuit, but we believe in wanting all our students to have good health [including engaging in] sports.”

The school also takes the approach of training young people to become self-sufficient, for instance being able to engage in “quiet activities” and “aesthetic appreciation” of music and other creative arts subjects. 

Finally, as an Anglican school, DGS promotes “spiritual nurturing” in a Christian sense, but also in that “every student at DGS has to serve [their community]”.

Hong Kong has undergone many changes in the past 30 years on account of transitions in leadership and the national agenda. As such, its education system faces new challenges. But Lau told Kuo that curriculum reform “is a necessity”.

“We're now living in a world which is impacted by technology [that] moves fast, and if our curriculum were to stay static for many years it just simply means that we are not preparing our students for the way forward,” she said. “Whenever there are curriculum reforms, I know it poses a bit of pressure, a bit of discomfort, because we have to continue to learn all the time. But that is life – we embrace that.”

The two leaders discussed the important links between school and university education. Asked by Kuo what she would like to see universities do to improve these links, Lau responded that it was her hope students “will learn to become independent” and “ready to meet the challenges of life, especially [as it is] impacted by technology”.

“Universities [also] serve a very practical function, and that is to train people who can contribute to the workforce, to society,” she said. Building industry connections, therefore, was crucial. 

“Learning is a non-stop process,” Kuo concluded. “We need to give heed to virtues of intellect, and physical health. This will enable students to contribute better to society.”

Find out more about CityU’s Beyond Boundaries series.

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