University of Hong Kong

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The University of Hong Kong (commonly abbreviated as HKU, pronounced as "Hong Kong U") is the oldest tertiary institution in Hong Kong. Its motto is "Sapientia et Virtus" in Latin, and "[明德格物] error: {{lang}}: unrecognized language tag: zh-t (help)" in Chinese, meaning "wisdom and virtue". The official language of instruction is English.


According to the Times Higher Education Supplement 2006 World University Rankings, HKU was ranked 33rd in the world and 3rd among universities in the Greater China. HKU was also included in the 2006 Newsweek rankings of the Top 100 Global Universities.


File:HKU coat of arms.jpg
Coat of Arms of the University of Hong Kong

The University of Hong Kong traces its origin to the former Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, founded by the London Missionary Society in 1887. The University itself was founded when Sir Frederick Lugard (later Lord Lugard, 1st Baron Lugard), Governor of Hong Kong, proposed to establish a university in Hong Kong. At that time, Lugard felt an urgent need to establish a university in China to compete with other Western powers, most notably Prussia, which had just opened Tongji University in Shanghai. Lugard laid the foundation stone of the Main Building on March 16, 1910 and hoped that the university would educate more Chinese people in British "imperial values", as opposed to those of other Western powers. The founding of the university was possible because of funding and support from the government and the business sector in southern China, which were both equally eager to learn "secrets of the West's success", referring to technological advances made since the Industrial Revolution.

The University of Hong Kong opened with only a Faculty of Medicine which had evolved from the Hong Kong College of Medicine. But within a year of the official opening of the University, the Faculties of Engineering and Arts were established. On December 1916, the University held its first congregation, with just 23 graduates.

The University was founded as an all-male institution. Women students were admitted for the first time only ten years later. In 1937, the Queen Mary Hospital opened and has served as the University's teaching hospital ever since. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, there were four Faculties - Arts, Engineering, Medicine, and Science. During the Second World War, HKU was temporarily closed.

After the war, the University reopened and underwent structural developments as post-war reconstruction efforts began in earnest. The Faculty of Social Sciences was established in 1967 and the Law Department in 1969. In 1982, the Faculty of Dentistry, based at the Prince Philip Dental Hospital, was established. It remains to this day Hong Kong's only faculty training dental professionals. In 1984, both the School of Architecture and School of Education became fully-fledged faculties, and in the same year a separate Faculty of Law was created. The Faculty of Business and Economics was established in 2001 as the University's tenth and youngest faculty.

HKU has nurtured the largest number of research postgraduate students in Hong Kong, making up approximately 10% of the total student population. All ten faculties and departments provide teaching and supervision for research (MPhil and PhD) students with administration undertaken by the Graduate School. About 45% of the University's academic staff are recruited from overseas.

The year 2001 marked the 90th Anniversary of HKU. Growing with Hong Kong: HKU and its Graduates - The First 90 Years was published by the University Press in 2002 as an impact study on HKU's graduates in different fields of Hong Kong.

In January 2006, despite protest from some students and various alumni, the Faculty of Medicine was renamed as the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine "as a recognition of the generosity" of Mr. Li Ka Shing and his Foundation, who pledged HK$1 billion in support of the University "general development as well as research and academic activities in medicine".

Campus and history

The university's main campus covers 160,000 square metres of land on Bonham Road and Pok Fu Lam Road in the Mid-levels of Hong Kong Island. HKU buildings are some of the few remaining examples of British Colonial architecture in Hong Kong.

The Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine is situated 4.5 km southwest of the main campus, in the Southern District near Sandy Bay and Pok Fu Lam. The medical campus includes Queen Mary Hospital, the William M.W. Mong Building and research facilities. The Faculty of Dentistry is situated in the Prince Philip Dental Hospital, Sai Ying Pun.

The university also operates the Kadoorie Agricultural Research Center, which occupies 95,000 square metres of land in the New Territories, and the Swire Institute of Marine Science at the southern tip of the d'Aguilar Peninsula on Hong Kong Island.

Main building

The oldest structure in the University of Hong Kong was sponsored by Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody and designed by Architect Messrs Leigh & Orange. Constructed between 1910 and 1912, it originally comprised two courtyards in the post-renaissance style built with red brick and granite. The main elevation is articulated by four turrets with a central clock tower (a gift from Sir Paul Chater in 1930). Two courtyards were added in the south in 1952 and one floor in the end block in 1958. It was originally used as classrooms and laboratories for the Faculty of Medicine and Engineering and is now the home of various departments within the Faculty of Arts. The central Great Hall (Loke Yew Hall) is named after Mr. Loke Yew, a benefactor of the University in its early years. It became a declared monument in 1984.

Hung Hing Ying Building (孔慶熒樓)

Financed by Sir Paul Chater, Professor G. P. Jordan and others, it was opened in 1919 by the Governor of Hong Kong Sir Reginald Stubbs and housed the student union. After World War II, the building was used temporarily for administrative purposes. The East Wing was added in 1960. The building was converted into the Senior Common Room in 1974. It was named in honour of Mr Hung Hing Ying in 1986 for his family's donations to the university. The building was subsequently used again for administrative purposes, and now houses the Department of Music. This two-storey Edwardian style structure is characterised by a central dome and the use of red brick to emulate the Main Building opposite. The building was declared a monument in 1995.

Tang Chi Ngong Building (鄧志昂樓)

The idea to establish a school of Chinese was proposed between the two World Wars. Construction of the premises began in 1929 with a generous donation from Mr Tang Chi-ngong, father of the philanthropist Sir Tang Shiu-kin, after whom the building was named. It was opened by Governor of Hong Kong Sir William Peel in 1931 and since then further donations have been received for the endowment of teaching Chinese language and literature. The building has been used for other purposes since the 1970s but the name remained unchanged. At present, it houses the Centre of Asian Studies. This three-storey flat-roofed structure is surfaced with Shanghai plaster and was declared a monument in 1995.

University Museum and Art Gallery

The three-storey Fung Ping Shan Museum was originally erected in 1932 as a library for Chinese books. Named after its donor, the building consists of masonry on the ground level surmounted by a two-storey red-brick structure with applied ornamental columns topped by a pediment over its entrance. Since 1962, the Chinese books collection, now known as the Fung Ping Shan Library, was transferred to the University's new Main Library and the whole building was converted into a museum for Chinese art and archaeology. Among its prized collections are ceramics, pottery and bronzes. In 1996, the lowest three floors of the new T. T. Tsui Building were added to the old building to form the University Museum and Art Gallery.


The University's Chancellor is the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, the Honourable Donald Tsang, GBM, JP, KBE. The Pro-Chancellor is the Honourable Dr David Li, GBS, JP, OBE. The Vice-Chancellor is Professor Lap-Chee Tsui, the Deputy Vice Chancellor is Professor R. Y. C. Wong, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellors are Professor C. F. Lee, Professor J. G. Malpas, Professor J. H. W. Lee and Professor P. K. H. Tam. The academic staff population is over 800.

Professor Ian Davies was the Vice-Chancellor for two years before a worldwide search culminated in the selection of Professor Lap-Chee Tsui as the new head of the University in 2002.

Research and Endowment

The University of Hong Kong is a founding member of Universitas 21, an international consortium of research-led universities. HKU benefits from a large operating budget supplied by high levels of government funding compared to many Western countries. Since 1991, the Research Grants Council (RGC) has granted the University of Hong Kong a total of HK$893 million, the highest amount amongst all eight universities in the territory [1]. HKU professors were among the highest paid in the world as well, having salaries equalling or exceeding those of their U.S. counterparts in private universities. However, with the reduction of salaries in recent years, this is no longer the case.

39 academic staff from HKU are ranked among the world's top 1% of scientists by the ISI, by means of the citations recorded on their publications. [2]


According to the latest profile indicators [3], the student population of the University was 21,508 in 2005-2006, comprising 11,584 undergraduates, 7,928 taught postgraduates, and 1,996 MPhil/PhD students. There were 1,278 non-local students studying at the university.

HKU attracts some of the best students in Hong Kong. For the last five years, the University has admitted around 50% of all the Hong Kong A-level Grade-A students. It accepts most of its undergraduate students from Form 7 graduates of local secondary schools through the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS). The University also operates an Early Admission Scheme (EAS) which allows Form 6 students with at least 6 Grade A in the HKCEE (local schools) or at least 6 A* in GCSE or IGCSE (international schools) results to join the University without sitting the Hong Kong A-Level Examination. In 2005-2006, over 50% of all students eligible to apply through the Early Admission Scheme chose HKU as their first choice.

Academic units

The university comprises 10 faculties and a number of non-faculty academic units, which provide study programmes and courses for students (source:


  • Faculty of Architecture
  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Business and Economics
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Law
  • Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Social Sciences

The School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE)

SPACE was established in 1956 to provide different levels of amateur programmes on a wide range of subjects, for instance, Japanese language courses and Mandarin language courses. SPACE runs its programmes without subsidy from the government and it has recently evolved into a community college-type institution, somewhat similar to community colleges in the US.

HKU SPACE Community College

HKU SPACE Community College was established in March 2000. It mainly provides sub-degree programmes for Form 5 or Form 7 graduates to further their studies. There are three main streams of programmes provided, they are Higher Diploma Programmes (2- or 3-year full time), Pre-Associate Degree (1-year full time) and Associate Degree (2-year full time).


HKU Libraries (HKUL) was established in 1912 and is the oldest academic library in Hong Kong with over 2.3 million holdings. While the total stock in physical volumes has been growing, the electronic collection has also expanded rapidly. A web-based library catalogue, DRAGON, allows one to search HKUL's books, journals and other resources.

HKUL now comprises the Main Library and six specialist branch libraries, the Dental, Education, Fung Ping Shan (East Asian Language), Yu Chun Keung Medical, Lui Che Woo Law and the Music Library. They are located in buildings around the campus with varying opening hours.

Student services

The university provides other services to meet students' personal needs, including

  • Career Education and Placement Centre
  • Computer Centre
  • Centre of Development and Resources for Students
  • Personal Development and Counselling Centre
  • Sports and Recreation Programmes/Facilities
  • University Dental Service
  • University Health Service
  • University Museum and Art Gallery (formerly Fung Ping Shan Museum)

Student life

Student accommodation and hall education

"Hall education" is encouraged by HKU, giving students a chance to learn through participating in hall-based activities. However, recent scandals about bullying within the halls and indecent orientations have raised public skepticism on the value of hall culture.

Residential halls

  • St. John's College (mixed undergraduates and mixed postgraduates)
  • Morrison Hall (male undergraduates and mixed postgraduates)
  • Ricci Hall (male only)
  • Lady Ho Tung Hall (female only)
  • University Hall (male only)
  • Robert Black College (postgraduates and visitors only)
  • Swire Hall (Swire Hall)
  • Simon K. Y. Lee Hall
  • Lee Hysan Hall
  • R.C. Lee Hall
  • Wei Lun Hall
  • Madam S.H. Ho Residence for Medical Students
  • Pokfield Road Residences
  • Graduate House (postgraduates only)
  • Starr Hall
  • Patrick Manson Student Residences
  • Lee Shau Kee Hall
  • Suen Chi Sun Hall

Non-residential halls

  • Hornell Hall (male only)
  • Duchess of Kent Hall (female only)
  • Lee Chi Hung Hall (co-educational)

(See also: Official Information on HKU's student residences)

Student organisations

There are two officially recognised student bodies, giving opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities.

The Hong Kong University Students' Union (HKUSU) principally serves the undergraduate students. This organisation is renowned amongst student activists, having been the main driving force behind evicting a chancellor in recent years. The Postgraduate Students Association (PGSA) represents the postgraduate students.

People affiliated with HKU

Being the oldest and the only university in Hong Kong for decades, the University of Hong Kong has educated many notable people. One of them was Dr Sun Yat-sen, father of modern China, who was a graduate of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, the predecessor of HKU. Over 40 principal officials, permanent secretaries, and Executive Council/Legislative Council members of the Hong Kong SAR Government are HKU graduates. HKU graduates also form the senior management teams of many large organisations in the private sector, covering many business and professional fields.

See also:



Bias toward medical disciplines

Humanities and social science disciplines have long suffered from chronic underfunding. University spending has long focused on the medical subjects. Medical students, owing to the nature of their studies and the structure, number and duration of the courses, receive the highest subsidies from the University. However, the Centennial staffing plan will see an increase in research staff across the university and help expand research activity further beyond the medical disciplines.

Academic freedom

The University faced one of its biggest crises in 2000 when Dr. Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the Public Opinion Programme at HKU, alleged that he had received political pressure from Chief Executive of Hong Kong Tung Chee-hwa through Vice-Chancellor Prof Cheng Yiu-chung and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Prof Wong Siu-lun to discontinue his public opinion polls on Tung and his government.

Although the allegations were denied by Tung and HKU, a controversy erupted over the question of political interference in academic freedom. HKU set up a three-member panel led by Justice Noel Power to investigate Chung's claims. After 11 days of open hearings in August, the panel concluded that there were what it called "covert attempts" to pressure Chung into discontinuing his polls. The panel concluded that Dr. Chung is "an honest witness who was telling the truth in relation to the matters he is complaining about", but "neither Lo [The Chief Executive's Senior Special Assistant] nor the vice chancellor disclosed the full and truthful extent of what was said in [the] meetings". Two professors resigned just before the University Council met on September 9 to vote on whether or not to accept the panel's report. At the end, Dr Chung's Public Opinion Programme continues to function and is growing from strength to strength in the years subsequent to that crisis, and becoming arguably the most authoritative source of public opinion information and assessment in Hong Kong.

Future development

In 2003, the HKU management panel put forth a strategic development plan with the goal of placing HKU even higher among the world's best universities in the next decade or so.

The University will build a new campus, the Centennial Campus, west of the Main Campus. The construction of the Centennial Campus will begin in 2008, and will be completed by 2011.

In addition to increased academic research and development, HKU also aims to promote continuing education to the public, through improved links between the University and the School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE).

HKU is also trying to better its alumni and external network for financially sustainable development [4]


See also

External links

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