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January 28
2013年1月28日

春到人間草木知:
學生、教師、校友及
無名英雄與我

Way Cool Blog


 

前言

自從2008年5月加入城大以來,我廣泛接觸了校內外各色人等,其中包括許多草根階層人士。以下就我跟學生、教師、校友及無名英雄等四方面人士的交往經驗,做一個心得報告。這些不是正式的官樣文章,而是偶發的個人感受,猶如南宋學者張栻「立春偶成」中所描述的:

律回歲晚冰霜少,春到人間草木知。
便覺眼前生意滿,東風吹水綠參差。

所記之事亦微,所述之理亦淺,但望見微知著,有參考價值。

我心目中欲推行的校政,是希望促使城大成為一所先進的當代大學;也就是,成就一個以學術為中心,享有學術自主,朝著學術至上方向前進的大學。人人盡心盡職(held accountable),做好自己份內的工作。就這一點來說,城大目前做得尚不夠。也許這是今天香港的大環境使然,凡事易被人與政治牽連起來,或以金錢掛帥,結果許多人反而把大學應該奉行的使命給拋到九霄雲外,以至於大學裏缺乏就事論事、實事求是的精神。

2012年底,應《明報月刊》邀請,我根據來香港工作四年半以來的經驗與體會,寫了「展望國際化環境下的香港高等教育」一文,發表在該雜誌2013年2月號特輯上。我先把這篇文章轉錄如下,然後分別陳述我在日常生活中接觸過的一些人與事,以及由此而產生的體會。這些體會多少與城大以及香港高等教育的發展與現狀有點關係,他們也建基於我與校內外各類人士接觸後的一些心得感想。

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展望國際化環境下的香港高等教育

2012年標誌著香港高等教育發展的一個分水嶺,英式三年本科生學制改為四年美制(中大曾經實行過四年制本科)。今後,香港的大學教研料將有機會更加充實與多樣。

大學重視野,也該講究成效;須配合本地社會、經濟的進展,尋找可獲先機的突破口,創建特色優勢,履行社會責任。大學培育人才,是探究與創新的重鎮;因此,教師在教學之外,應該參與問題導向型的研究,與時並進、更新知識。

展望2013年,我們面對的挑戰愈益複雜,如能源短缺、環境污染、人口老化、可持續發展、全球政經不穩定等,在在需要跨學科的研討,並有賴各地、各校的教研人員攜手合作。然而,大學教師是否有投入足夠精力從事相關教研、指導學生?我們的社會,包括媒體,在這些課題上有否與大學合作,共同檢視高等教育的成效?

過去二十年來,香港的高等教育進步快速;可是就實踐而言,我們在「教研合一」方面仍有距離,許多人甚至於對此概念茫然無知。

傳統的講法,把教與研分開來看,甚至放在對立面來處理。學而不思則罔,思而不學則殆。時代進步快速,教學若無研究,資料陳舊,學生即刻察覺。研究若不傳授,為人師者,無法讓學生受益,也同樣不可取。就像其他行業一樣,教師必須自我提升,增強學術研究與教學的整體實力,倡導遵循國際化的行事規則。「教研合一」是現代大學的普世標準。

以國際標準衡量,本港大學在硬件上還過得去;在軟件與資源上也受到應有的關注;但是在心件上尚留有頗大的改進空間。現有的行事方式、創新思維,尤其在校園管治與學術文化方面,有待補強。

高等教育成功的支柱在於採用高標準;取法乎上,就事論事,並以此引領社會。「負責」(accountability)是近代的行事準則,適用於所有個人與單位,而不僅僅局限於某個階層。與西方先進相比,我們的校園氛圍欠缺多元文化,很有必要摒棄性別、年齡、宗教、種族、出身等方面的歧視與偏見。社會上,大道理講的太多,篤行實踐的太少。

追求卓越,須靠勤奮的教研表現,沒有捷徑。資源是當今高等教育面臨的一個現實問題。典型的美國州立大學由政府得到的資助不會超過預算的20%,香港的大學如今獲得的政府資助大約佔預算的55%。教研昂貴,政府撥款佔大學經費的比例卻年年下降,舉世皆然。為了靈活運用資源及反映社會價值,港府於2003年將大學薪酬與公務員脫鉤。與鄰近國家與地區相比,香港高等教育正在進行轉型,爭取足夠資源,早晚會成為需要面對的挑戰。

大學教研是個專業,大學自治的精髓可以歸納為:在體制之下尊重專業管理,讓教研歸教研。就此而言,本港高等教育尚有漫漫長路要走。從策略上看,唯有引入良性競爭機制,才能為高等教育注入動力;也唯有如此,才能真正實踐當代的負責制,對社會有所貢獻。

註:本文載於明報月刊(2013年2月號)。

 

Shrubs and trees herald the coming of the spring: students, teachers, alumni, unsung heroes and I

Preface

Since my appointment at CityU in May 2008, I have come into contact with a good number of people working either at CityU or elsewhere. Many of these come from the grass-root level. What follows is a collection of articles recording my contact with CityU's students, teachers, alumni and other people who deserve to be called unsung heroes. Rather than formal essays, these are butrandom thoughts of mine. As Zhang Shi, a scholar in the Southern Song Dynasty, describes in his poem Random Thoughts about the Arrival of Spring:

At the turn of the year, snow is thawing,
As the shrubs and trees herald the coming of the spring.
There is life in all that meets the eye,
The water, green with vegetation, ripples in the spring breeze.

 

My articles are about trivial things, but like the plants in the poem, I hope they will presage bigger and brighter things to come.

The school administration I have in mind should turn CityU into an advanced contemporary university. In other words, it should be a place with full academic freedom that puts learning above all else. Everyone is held accountable for their assigned duty. In this respect, CityU still has a long way to go. This may be attributable to the larger environment of Hong Kong, where things are judged either from a political or financial point of view. As a result, many people simply cast aside the mission a university is supposed to serve, with the result that the right attitude of addressing the issues for what they are is simply lacking within the walls of the university.

At the invitation of Ming Pao Monthly at the end of 2012, I wrote an article entitled "The Prospect of Hong Kong Higher Education in the Context of Internationalisation," based on my experience and reflections in my four and half years in Hong Kong. The article came out in the February 2013 special issue of this magazine. The article is reprinted here, to be followed by accounts of some of the people and incidents I have come across. To various degrees, these reflections of mine, based as they are on my communications with people on campus and elsewhere, are related to the development and current situation of CityU and Hong Kong's higher education.

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The prospect of Hong Kong's higher education in the context of internationalisation

The year of 2012 marked a watershed in the development of Hong Kong's higher education. The former English 3-year undergraduate curriculum was replaced by the American 4-year curriculum, which the Chinese University of Hong Kong once adopted. We can foresee the future consolidation and diversified development of teaching and research in Hong Kong's universities.

Much as a university should attach importance to a broad vision, it should emphasise the outcome of education. In keeping with the development of local society and economy, it should fulfill its social responsibility duty by making pioneering breakthroughs and creating its unique advantages. A university is the cradle for talented people and an important base of research and innovation. In addition to their teaching, university teachers should therefore carry out problem-driven research and update their knowledge in keeping abreast with the times.

The year of 2013 will witness more complicated challenges, such as energy shortage, environmental pollution, ageing population, sustainable development and global political and economic instability. To take on these challenges, the teaching and research staff of various universities in different places should join hands in interdisciplinary research. Nevertheless, have university teachers devoted adequate effort to the teaching and research of these relevant issues, or to the guidance of their students? Has our society, including the media, cooperated with universities on these issues and made concerted effort to appraise the results of Hong Kong's higher education?

In the past 20 years, Hong Kong's higher education has made marked progress. But in practice, we have a long way to go to achieve the goal of "integrating teaching and research". Many people may not even know what it means.

The traditional way of looking at this issue is to keep teaching and research separated, or even regards them as at odds with each other. Learning without thinking is futile; thinking without learning is perilous. With the rapid advance of the times, if teaching is not supported by research, with the result that teaching materials become outdated, students will notice it right away. A researcher who does not teach or a teacher who fails to benefit the students because of his outdated knowledge are equally at fault. As in any profession in the world, a teacher must upgrade himself/herself by bolstering the overall strength of academic research and classroom teaching and by observing international practices in these areas. "Integrating teaching and research" is a universal principle guiding the practice of modern universities.

By international standards, the hardware of Hong Kong's universities is adequate. Due attention has also been paid to their software and resources. However, there is much room for improvement in the "human factor". In campus management and academic culture, improvements still needs to be made in injecting innovative thinking in the ways things are done.

The success of higher education rests on the high standards it adopts. We should take the best as our model, judge a matter on its own grounds and lead society in accordance with these principles. "Accountability" is a code of conduct in modern times which applies not only to a certain social stratum, but also to every individual person and unit. Compared with advanced western countries, our university community is in great need of multiculturalism. There is a great need to do away with discrimination and prejudice in sex, age, religion, race and social origin. In the present-day society there is too much talk, but little action.

In our pursuit of excellence, we must rely on the performance of diligent teaching and research. There is no short cut. Resource is a realistic problem that today's higher education has to confront. A typical state university in the US receives from the government less than 20% of its budget. At present, a university in Hong Kong usually gets from the government about 55% of its budget. The cost of teaching and research is on the rise, while the proportion of government's funding in the university's budget decreases year by year. This is the same all over the world. In order to use resources in a flexible way and thereby reflect the values of society, the Hong Kong government delinked the salary of the university faculty and staff from that of civil servants in 2003. Compared with the neighboring countries and regions, Hong Kong's higher education is undergoing transformation. To seek sufficient resources will become, sooner or later, a real challenge all the universities must face.

Teaching and research in a university is a profession. The essence of university self-government can be summarised in this way: respect professional administration under the present system, and allow those who are engaged in teaching and research to take charge of their work. As far as this is concerned, Hong Kong's higher education has a long way to go. From the strategic point of view, only by introducing benevolent competition, can we inject a new momentum to the development of Hong Kong's higher education. And only in this way can we put into practice the modern system of accountability and contribute to the contemporary society.

Note:
This article is originally published in Chinese in Ming Pao Monthly (February 2013).

January 28, 2013

 

 

 

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