Speech by CE at PolyU 80th Anniversary Celebration Dinner (with photos/video)
Mr Chan (Chairman of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Council, Mr Chan Tsz-ching), Timothy (President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Professor Timothy Tong), Carlson (Chairman of the University Grants Committee, Mr Carlson Tong), ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. It's a great pleasure to be here, to be celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with you tonight. Without sounding cliché, time really flies. It is more than one year ago that I officiated at the launching ceremony of the University's 80th anniversary celebrations on the university campus in my then capacity as the Chief Secretary for Administration.
PolyU's journey started eighty years ago in a modest, two-storey building on Wood Road in Wan Chai. It was Government Trade School back then, the first publicly funded, post-secondary technical institution in Hong Kong offering courses in mechanical engineering, marine wireless operating and building construction. With the remarkable efforts of its management, staff and students, that trade school has become the PolyU that we all know and admire, an internationally renowned university – innovative, ambitious and endlessly evolving.
PolyU excels in professional education, in applied research and community partnership, all for the benefit and the progress of Hong Kong. Its pursuit of excellence has been applauded internationally. In this year's QS World University Rankings, eight PolyU disciplines were ranked among the world's top 50. The university also climbed to 17th place in Asia this year under the Times Higher Education University Rankings. These cheering results reflect PolyU's longstanding promise: "Opening Minds, Shaping the Future." They also underscore the remarkable development of Hong Kong's higher education sector over the years. Indeed, in this year's QS World University Rankings, five Hong Kong universities placed in the top 100 globally.
In recent years, PolyU and other post-secondary institutions are busily and profitably tapping into the opportunities presented by Mainland China, by Asia in general, and by the world at large. There will be plenty of such opportunities in the future, as the visionary Belt and Road Initiative turns into reality. The Belt and Road Initiative links more than 60 nations on three continents through infrastructure development and in a wealth of other areas, from expanded trade and political ties to culture, education and people-to-people bonds.
Our universities will have a big part to play if we are to take full advantage of the Belt and Road's boundless promise. In this regard, I am very pleased to note that PolyU has very strong regional and global connections, and is committed to weaving an effective global network which further facilitates educational and research development, as well as enhancing academic and cultural exchanges. PolyU was one of the first universities to co-found the University Alliance of the Silk Road in 2015. The Alliance now comprises 124 universities from 32 countries or regions, and has been actively organising a range of activities to broaden students' horizons and enrich their understanding about the Belt and Road regions. More recently, PolyU established the Belt and Road Centre in September 2017. This think tank will pool the interdisciplinary research strengths of the university to work with the public and private sectors, professional bodies and other universities on Belt and Road-related initiatives, as well as integrating them into university curriculum. It is encouraging to see PolyU progressing and contributing so remarkably in these aspects.
But it is nearer home, in the Gaungdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area that Hong Kong universities including PolyU will play a pivotal role in our ambition to develop in the Bay Area an international Innovation & Technology Centre, and in fulfilling my blueprint for I&T development with a view to help diversifying Hong Kong's economy and creating more quality jobs for our next generation. I know such an ambition has to be supported by additional resources in research and development (R&D). Thus, in my maiden Policy Address delivered on October 11, I announced that Government will set aside no less than HK$10 billion as extra funding for university research. I also propose a tax incentive to encourage enterprises to spend more on R&D. Given PolyU's achievements in applied research, I am confident that it will make excellent use of these additional resources.
I take heart as well in PolyU's emphasis on service-learning, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship. PolyU is the first university in Hong Kong to include service learning as a compulsory component for all students under the four-year curriculum. I am delighted to learn that PolyU students have contributed some 400 000 hours of services to the Hong Kong community through service-learning programmes. PolyU is also among our first higher-education institutions to offer funding and support to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among students, academics and alumni. With the establishment of the PolyU InnoHub earlier this year, I am confident our young innovators and entrepreneurs will expand their cooperation and exchanges with their counterparts in the nearby regions.
Ladies and gentlemen, while we celebrate PolyU's 80th anniversary today, the university is focused firmly on the future. I thank PolyU, particularly President Timothy Tong who has announced his decision to step down in December next year, and everyone involved for what you have done and what you will do for PolyU and Hong Kong. I wish PolyU every success in its future endeavours and wish you all an enjoyable evening.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the speech.)
Ends/Thursday, December 7, 2017
Issued at HKT 22:07
Issued at HKT 22:07