Most of Hong Kong's universities have spent years restructuring their learning programmes under the new 3-3-4 education system. But not Hong Kong Shue Yan University (HKSYU), which has been offering four-year courses for more than 30 years.
All 12 of its full-time bachelor's degrees in arts, commerce and social sciences have been designed, validated, and offered as four-year programmes from their launch.
Established as Shue Yan College in 1971, the founders refused to compromise on their conviction to teach four-year study courses to students even though that meant forgoing government financial assistance for post-secondary colleges. Shue Yan was finally awarded university status in 2006.
To adjust to the new education system, Cheung Kwok-ping, associate administrative vice-president of HKSYU, says courses for Year 1 have been reviewed to better bridge with the senior secondary school curriculum, and they are hiring staff to match the rising student intake.
A new research complex with additional student accommodation and teaching and learning spaces will be completed by 2015, to meet the university's need for additional space at its North Point campus.
All students must complete eight compulsory credits of Chinese and six compulsory credits of English courses in Year 1, and a further six credits of English in Year 2. Putonghua is compulsory in most degree programmes. To complete the general education requirement in the first two years, students can choose from a range of elective courses designed to provide a broad base of knowledge and key learning skills. Electives in the final two years provide opportunities for in-depth study of particular aspects of the major discipline, in line with students' graduation goals.
"An interactive, outcome-focused approach to teaching and learning ensures that students develop key generic skills such as leadership, problem solving, teamwork and communication, and acquire in-depth knowledge of their major subject area," he explains.
For professional programmes such as social work and journalism, there is a supervised internship or fieldwork component, or combined internship and fieldwork component, to provide opportunities for students to apply theory and professional skills in a workplace context.
A final-year project is also included in all programmes, and students embarking on graduate studies are encouraged towards this option. To graduate, all students must complete 124 to 127 credits and attain a final grade point average of 2.0 or above.
Cheung says close co-operation with relevant professional bodies ensures the maintenance of programme accreditation and graduate recognition.