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SED visits Belgium to promote education ties with EU member states (with photos)

     The Secretary for Education (SED), Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, today (May 20, Brussels time) continued his duty visit to Belgium to strengthen the education ties between Hong Kong and member states of the European Union (EU).

     Upon his arrival in Brussels yesterday, Mr Ng met with the Director-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, Mr Jan Truszczyński, and other senior officials to exchange views on a wide range of education issues, including bilateral co-operation opportunities.

     Mr Ng was briefed on the latest developments of the EU education systems, including the Bologna Process and the Erasmus+ Programme.

     Widely differing education and training systems in Europe have traditionally made it hard for Europeans to use qualifications from one country to apply for a job or a course in another. The Bologna Process is a collective effort of public authorities, universities, stakeholder associations, employers and quality assurance agencies to increase compatibility between education systems, making it easier for students and job seekers to move within Europe.

     Erasmus+ is a new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-20. The seven-year programme will have a budget of nearly 15 billion euros to provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad. Unlike the previous one held in 2007-13, the new programme is open to post-secondary institutions of non-EU countries and regions, including Hong Kong.

     Mr Ng praised the initiatives as a catalyst to increase student mobility and international co-operation, which is of paramount importance to a successful economy.

     "In Hong Kong, we have a similar vision. The 2014 Policy Address announced the introduction of a new scholarship scheme for up to 100 outstanding students per cohort to study in renowned non-local universities to nurture a pool of top talent to further Hong Kong's development. The Government will also support about 9,800 students in need to participate in exchange programmes outside Hong Kong selected on a merit basis and arranged by institutions," Mr Ng said.

     "In addition, the Policy Address announced the setting up of a Task Force on Vocational Education to map out a strategy to promote vocational education. The Government will also set up a $1 billion endowment fund to provide long-term support for the sustainable development of the Qualifications Framework to provide flexible and diversified study pathways with multiple entry and exit points.

     "Our goal is to promote the internationalisation, mobility and employability of the talent pool in Hong Kong," he added.

     Noting that EU member states and Hong Kong are moving towards the same direction, Mr Ng said he looked forward to enhancing mutual co-operation in the areas of education and research through further communication with education officials in the EU and the Consuls-General of its member states in Hong Kong.

     Mr Ng then made a presentation on "Nurturing Talent for a Globalised World - Enhancing International Mobility for Students" to some 20 representatives from the higher education sector in the EU at a reception co-organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels and the Academic Cooperation Association.

     Today Mr Ng first met with the Secretary General of the European University Association (EUA), Ms Lesley Wilson, to exchange views on higher education collaboration. With 850 members across 47 countries, the EUA is the largest and most comprehensive organisation representing universities in Europe.

     The SED also met with two academics from France and Germany renowned for science and language education. He also visited Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

     Mr Ng will fly to Helsinki, Finland, this evening for the second leg of his duty visit to Europe.

     Accompanying the SED are the Deputy Secretary for Education, Dr Catherine K K Chan; the Administrative Assistant to the SED, Mr Kenneth Cheng; and member of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research Professor Chan Shui-duen.

Ends/Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:00


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