Student Experience:
Nurturing Excellence of Both Heart and Mind

CUHK is a cradle for future global leaders who are imbued with strong moral character, emotional resilience, entrepreneurial mindset, innovative spirit and competencies to make lifelong contributions to society

Nurturing our students to become responsible global citizens and leaders is deeply embedded in the vision of the University.

In the 2019—20 academic year, some 4,300 young men and women in the freshmen cohort were welcomed into a caring and culturally diverse campus. Undergraduate student enrolment stood at 17,611 in 2019, of which 2,477 were non-local students, representing about 14.1% of the undergraduate population. Among the non-local students, the majority (1,504 or 60.7%) came from the mainland, while the remaining (39.3%) hailed from overseas─50 countries, regions or cities, to be exact. The ratio of non-local students in the postgraduate sector is considerably higher. Out of a total of 13,183 postgraduate students in 2019, 6,065 (46.0%) were non-local students, most of whom from the mainland. In all, in 2019, CUHK was home to 30,794 students, of whom 8,542 (27.7%) were non-local students. 

Exchange students further add to the international mix of the student population. With 282 exchange partners from 36 countries and regions, CUHK has grown into a global university.

Global and Local: A Fusion of Horizons

In promoting internationalization, the University does not lose sight of the students’ understanding of the nation and local society. Global competence and local knowledge are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are mutually reinforcing. A widened intellectual horizon and sound knowledge of one’s own culture enable students to avoid the pitfalls of parochialism and equip them with the ability to comprehend and critically appraise global issues. This is the kind of ‘glocal’ learning experience we provide for both local and non-local students on campus.

Currently, a variety of courses and activities are on offer to enhance the learning experience of both the local and non-local students. Many of these focus on China and Hong Kong society, including its history, culture, language, as well as contemporary development and challenges. Courses on foreign languages and cultures are also available, and they are generally well subscribed. In addition, to facilitate student integration, the Colleges and various service units have been working together to promote inter-cultural understanding and mutual respect through non-formal learning and cultural activities, including celebrations of major festivals of different cultures, and student-led interest classes such as handicraft and cooking with an international flavour.

While such initiatives generally receive very positive feedback from the participants, there is room to expand their reach. The need to redouble our effort in creating a vibrant and harmonious campus is heightened by the social unrest in Hong Kong in the second half of 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic. While the University responded in exemplary fashion to maintain its educational programmes through e-learning, the disruptions to campus life have taken a heavy toll on the mental well-being of many students.

The University has devoted much effort and resources over the past few years to improving student mental wellness through credit-bearing positive psychology courses, enhanced services at the Wellness and Counselling Centre of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), and the revitalization of Sunshine@CUHK (originally a campaign to raise student awareness of the importance of mental wellness). Nevertheless, given the difficult circumstances, it is necessary to do even more to foster student well-being and strengthen their resilience so that they can better cope with adversity.

Acrimony on campus arising from political disputes in the larger society is another issue that requires the urgent attention of the University. Efforts in promoting diversity and inclusiveness with a view to building a harmonious campus are in place and will form a key component of ‘CUHK 2025’.

Equally important, the University will ensure that students with special educational needs (SEN) are given all the necessary help and support. While the majority of the students are adept at online learning, SEN students will not be left behind, as the University prepares for teaching and learning under the New Normal.

A Fourfold Plan

In this context, with continued uncertainty and challenging conditions, the University will adopt a fourfold strategy in the next five years, to provide a rewarding student experience that nurtures excellence with purpose and responsibility. The four-pronged approach encompasses the intra-personal, inter-personal and personal-societal dimensions of student experience. They are:

  • empathetic concern for the well-being of others, across local, national and global communities
  • Social engagement
  • Creative and adaptive life planning
  • A growth mindset

A Road Map

The four-pronged approach described above combines into a road map that will prepare our students well for their life journey, from the initial point of engagement to the destination of a flourishing life. The road map takes into consideration the intra-personal, inter-personal and personal-societal levels of student experience.

Depending on the character, strengths, orientations and readiness of individual students, they can embark on this process from any entry point.

Engage
  • Engage students with ideas and practice of
    (a) empathetic concern for the well-being of others and nature
    (b) social engagement
    (c) creative and adaptive life planning
    (d) a growth mindset

  • Activities designed to develop desirable values, attitudes and skills as a part of enhanced student orientation and first-year experience programmes
Explore
  • A phase for students to explore their interests and aspirations and hone their skills, through career planning, social engagement at local, national and international levels, and other opportunities provided through the Colleges, I·CARE Centre and other units

  • Overseas exposures and global learning opportunities to explore different cultures and environments, reflect on national and global issues, and acquire intercultural sensibility and skills
Embrace
  • A phase for further development of values and attitudes, with the benefit of experience and reflection

  • Translating insight gained into practice, with University support for students to design their action plans for self-engagement, relating to others, and serving the community through social engagement
Evolve
  • Continuous support to students to apply their knowledge, values and plans to real-life situations, with the aim of developing further self-enhancement and ability to contribute to society

  • A dynamic life plan constituted and reconstituted
Flourish
  • Reaping the benefit of development and empowerment in the process, students can grow with the desired values and skills to become responsible and productive members of society

  • Our graduates will
    (a) be mature adults equipped with the competence to navigate social and cultural diversity and complexities
    (b) embrace a growth mindset and be adaptive and creative
    (c) possess strong ethical character marked by a deep concern for human welfare, and engage in activities contributing to the betterment of humanity

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