'Springboard to Asia' cordially invites UK scholars

January 27, 2011

The government of Hong Kong is looking to British academics to help fill a teaching gap created by major changes to its education system.

In an interview with Times Higher Education, Kenneth Chen, undersecretary for education in the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said that up to 1,000 new professors would be needed to cope with the move from three-year to four-year degrees in 2012-13.

He also revealed that UK universities were in discussions with the government about a plot of land set aside for an overseas institution.

"Because of our reform...some have estimated we need up to 1,000 new professors to deal with the increased amount of teaching," Mr Chen said. He added that he hoped some of the posts would be filled by British academics.

The Hong Kong government was also keen to encourage UK institutions to set up bases in the area, which became a special administrative region of China in 1997, he explained.

Land set aside by the government could accommodate an international institution with up to 8,000 students.

"We would like to make sure that institutions know that we welcome them to come to Hong Kong to set up a branch, a joint programme or simply to do collaborative research," said Mr Chen, who spoke to THE during a visit to the UK.

"We would like more people to collaborate with the academic community in Hong Kong. It is important that the international academic community understands what we're doing."

As well as increasing the number of foreign staff, Hong Kong has set itself a target "in coming years" for 20 per cent of its publicly funded student places to go to overseas students, which includes those from mainland China.

Agnes Allcock, director general of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, said the region should be an attractive destination for British students and academics because it provided a "springboard" to the rest of Asia.

"That will place them in a very advantageous position," she said.

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com.

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