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Education a policy priority

September 19, 2017

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

The extraordinary story of Lingnan, interwoven with the very unique history of our country, was among the many tales in our city which exemplified the unique relationship between Hong Kong and our motherland. Back in 1888, the university's forerunner, the Christian College in China, was founded in Guangzhou. Seventy-nine years later, in 1967, the institution was re-established in Hong Kong as Lingnan College. It was granted self-accreditation status and full recognition as a university by the Government in 1998 and renamed Lingnan University in 1999.


Over the years, Lingnan has endured thorny circumstances and sailed through countless hard times. Generations of Lingnanians have not only emerged stronger, but also remain dedicated to promoting East-meets-West liberal arts education and community engagement, and pursuing outstanding teaching, learning and scholarship. Their remarkable achievements have gained both local and overseas recognition. In 2015, the university was ranked among the Top 10 Liberal Arts Colleges in Asia on the Forbes' list. Last year, it was commended by the Quality Assurance Council of the University Grants Committee for its commitment in achieving excellence through liberal arts education and providing a rich array of opportunities for the whole-person development of students.


Education is one of the top policy priorities of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. It takes the lion's share of government recurrent expenditure, accounting for 21% (or $78.6 billion) of the total in the current financial year. This investment illustrates our commitment to education in Hong Kong, including higher education on the uppermost rung. I am particularly pleased to note that the university has developed a strategic plan for 2016-2022 to steer Lingnanians to the next level of excellence. Among the various areas identified for strategic development, the university is determined to promote regional and international co-operation to strengthen the research culture and training as well as internationalisation of student learning. This strategy aligns well with the Belt & Road and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area initiatives. Hong Kong has a key role to play in these very important initiatives and we should help our young talent grasp the new opportunities. We are now making relentless efforts to deliver infrastructure projects to improve our connectivity in the region. For example, the 26km Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link will connect us immediately to the immense opportunities along the 22,000km express rail on the Mainland. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will reduce the journey time to the western Pearl River Delta region substantially by putting it into our three-hour commuting radius. The construction of a third runway at the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok will consolidate our city's position as an international and regional aviation hub that can reach half of the world's population in less than five hours' flying time.


Lingnan's outstanding work in broadening students' horizons and helping them develop an international perspective is indeed visionary and far-sighted. The university scores high on internationalised outlook with 90% of its undergraduates having the opportunity to go on exchange. To date, the university has more than 190 exchange partners in about 40 countries.


Lingnan has also made remarkable progress in research and knowledge transfer. Seven strategic research themes have been identified in the strategic plan, and many of them such as economic and international development, transcultural studies as well as art, performance and the contemporary world could help in establishing closer collaboration and exchanges with institutions in different parts of the world. Forging people-to-people bonds is at the heart of the Belt & Road Initiative. We encourage closer cultural ties across the Asian region and beyond. This is particularly important as the Free Trade Agreement concluded between Hong Kong and ASEAN will be signed in November this year. With ASEAN being our second largest trading partner, the agreement will certainly boost economic and talent exchanges between Hong Kong and the entire region and open up boundless possibilities to talent with international perspective, like our Lingnanians. I feel most encouraged to learn that Lingnan students have actively participated in various internship programmes including the ASEAN Internship Scheme and the Mainland Internship Programme.


The Government will continue to invest in education and join hands with the higher education sector and the community at large to provide our younger generation with more and better opportunities. We hope to cultivate in our prospective leaders commitment to society, love for our city and our nation as well as a global outlook that will enable them to contribute to the long-term future of Hong Kong.


Lingnan is a shining and outstanding example of the virtues of liberal arts in education. As the only publicly funded liberal arts university in Hong Kong, it has created a unique brand of higher education characterised by a close staff-student relationship, rich residential campus life, global learning opportunities and active community service. I trust that Lingnan will continue to nurture generations of Lingnanians with a fair and critical mind and a caring heart to contribute to the community.


We are all very proud of the achievements of Lingnan University and believe that it will continue to scale new heights in the years ahead. On this joyous occasion, may I join you all in wishing Lingnan every success in its future endeavour.


Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung made these remarks at the 50th anniversary ceremony of the re-establishment of Lingnan University in Hong Kong on September 19.

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