LCQ12: Language for teaching and research of literature and history-related subjects in higher education institutions
It is learnt that currently there is a growing tendency among departments of Chinese language and literature, history, Chinese studies and Chinese culture (such departments) of higher education institutions to teach and conduct research studies in English (especially in Chinese history courses); and some academics are also required to use English in undertaking research projects relating to Chinese language and literature, Chinese history, Chinese culture, etc. There are views that such arrangements have far-reaching implications on the development of the relevant disciplines. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the following information on the (i) undergraduate programmes and (ii) postgraduate programmes (including research master's, taught master's and Doctor of Philosophy) currently offered by such departments of the 22 higher education institutions (including the eight University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities and the 14 self-financing or non-UGC-funded tertiary institutions): numbers of programmes, titles of programmes, modes of study, numbers of academic staff members, numbers of students, titles and credits of various subjects under the programmes, medium of instruction, and modes of assessment;
(2) of the following information on such departments and relevant research divisions of the 22 higher education institutions in each of the past five years (set out by name of institution): numbers and names of departments/divisions, numbers of researchers, and the percentages of the two figures in the relevant totals of the institutions concerned;
(3) whether the UGC and the Research Grants Council under the UGC have required the 22 higher education institutions and their academic staff members to write their applications in English in applying for publicly-funded research and teaching projects, or refused to accept applications written in Chinese; if so, of the details; and
(4) whether it has studied if there is a phenomenon of "giving emphasis to English over Chinese" and excessive pursuit of internationalisation in the teaching and research work in respect of relevant disciplines such as Chinese language and literature, history, Chinese studies and Chinese culture in the higher education sector in Hong Kong; if it has studied and the outcome is in the affirmative, whether it has issued specific guidelines or formulated indicators for the development of such disciplines, and whether it will introduce relevant policy measures to change this development trend?
The University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities are independent statutory bodies established pursuant to their respective ordinances and enjoy autonomy in the development of curriculum and academic standard, including the choice of the appropriate medium of instruction for individual programmes or courses to suit teaching and research needs. The UGC does not prescribe the medium of instruction of individual university programmes.
Under the principle of institutional autonomy, self-financing post-secondary institutions may similarly determine the programmes to be offered and develop the relevant programme contents, including the medium of instruction, with a view to achieving the programme objectives and intended learning outcomes.
Our reply to the various parts of the question raised by Dr the Hon Chow Man-kong is as follows:
(1) and (2) In the 2022/23 academic year (AY), the UGC-funded universities offer a total of about 75 full-time UGC-funded undergraduate and research postgraduate programmes in disciplines relating to Chinese language and literature, history, culture, society, medicine and pharmacy, etc, with a total enrolment of about 4 600 students. The relevant breakdown is at Annex 1.
In the 2022/23 AY, the figures of teaching faculties/departments, teaching staff, and researchers in disciplines relating to Chinese language and literature, history, culture, society, medicine and pharmacy, etc, of the UGC-funded universities are set out at Annex 2. The UGC Secretariat does not maintain comprehensive information on aspects such as the number of credits involved in each course, their medium of instruction, the number of teaching faculties/departments and the percentage share of the entire establishment as well as teaching staff and researchers of the respective universities, etc, of the above-mentioned UGC-funded programmes.
As regards the non-UGC-funded sector, in the 2022/23 AY, post-secondary institutions offer a total of about 120 locally-accredited non-UGC-funded undergraduate (including top-up degree), taught postgraduate, and research postgraduate programmes in disciplines relating to Chinese language and literature, history, culture, society, medicine and pharmacy, etc, with a total enrolment of about 5 700 students. The relevant breakdown is at Annex 3.
In the 2022/23 AY, the names of departments/divisions in disciplines relating to Chinese language and literature, history, culture, society, medicine and pharmacy, etc, of degree-awarding self-financing post-secondary institutions are set out at Annex 4. The Education Bureau does not maintain information on aspects such as the number of academic staff members, the number of credits involved in each course, their medium of instruction, the number of departments/divisions and the percentage share of the entire establishment as well as teaching staff and researchers of the respective institutions, etc, of the above-mentioned non-UGC-funded programmes.
(3) Under the Official Languages Ordinance (Cap. 5), both Chinese and English are the official languages of Hong Kong and enjoy equal status. In the conduct of official business and relaying of information, the UGC Secretariat and the UGC-funded universities adopt the suitable language having regard to operational needs, the nature of the business, and the target audience.
The Research Grants Council (RGC) of the UGC adopts a peer review mechanism in accordance with international practice in processing research funding applications and conducting research assessment exercises through panels/committees comprising local and non-local (including the Mainland) experts. During the process, external reviewers from around the world are invited by the panels/committees to participate in the assessment.
For grant applications of the Research Endowment Fund, the Principal Investigator may complete the application in Chinese according to the needs of the respective research topic, but must also provide an English version of the details of the research proposal to enable the panel/committee concerned to identify experts in the relevant academic fields to serve as external reviewers. All research grant applications will be evaluated on the basis of the academic quality of the research proposal, not its medium of language used.
(4) While the Government and the UGC have all along supported universities to strengthen internationalisation efforts and their engagement with the Mainland to enhance the international status and overall competitiveness of Hong Kong’s higher education sector, we have not imposed any specific requirements on the medium of instruction. In fact, the higher education sector of Hong Kong has gathered a large pool of biliterate and trilingual academics and students who can serve as a bridge between Chinese and Western cultures to facilitate Hong Kong’s fulfilment of its positioning as an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange under the National 14th Five-Year Plan. Our higher education sector will continue to conduct teaching and research activities in suitable languages, contents, and formats according to the different occasions and actual operational needs, so as to actively promote Chinese culture abroad.
Ends/Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Issued at HKT 16:12
Issued at HKT 16:12