Newsletter No. 394

10 No. 394, 19.3.2012 …… 如是说 Thus Spake… 研究院在大学里发挥什么功能? 研究院的管理结构是矩阵式的,没有专属的教学人员,课 程通过各学院学系里的学部筹办。我们主要是订立长远 策略,管理研究生课程,确保质素,提供基本支援,也给研 究生一个集中的谘询点,帮助他们处理学业问题。 研究院对研究生的学习有何支援? 研究式与修课式课程同样要求学生有本科训练,在知识层 面和所习专业有一定阔度和深度,继而在这基础上钻研, 例如开拓新思维或深造专业。Improving Postgraduate Learning是研究院唯一直接开办的学习单元,广及资料搜 集、实验室安全、论文写作、抄袭剽窃、陈述技巧等课题, 也有语文训练,可说是研究生应有的「通识」。 中大研究生人数在四五年前赶上本科生人数,其后更 一直超越之。这个现象反映了什么? 本校研究生人数约一万二千,是多是少,要看大学的定 位。研究式课程学生人数在研究型大学的比例应较重,在 外国,与修课式课程学生多是五五之比。我们的研究式课 程学生才约二千,如可提高,研究型大学的角色便能发挥 得更好。学生人数增长主要在修课式课程,八间学院开办 的广泛课程吸纳不少学生。学生来源也起了变化,以前是 兼读为主,现在全日制的多了,有好几千,不少是内地生。 香港其他院校也出现这个情况。 你怎样看研究院课程成为大学的赚钱工具这个 说法? 修课式课程以自负盈亏的模式运作,始自十多年前,政府 认为某些课程能满足社会和学生的需求,但未必需要用公 帑支持,所以决定不再直接资助。另一方面,现在为配合政 府实践发展香港为教育枢纽的使命,招收了不少外地生。 大学在发展之余必会兼重质素保证和本身的长远目标,课 程和学生不可无止境增长。而且,应怎样发展教育产业, 整个社会应有共识,值得探讨。 促使研究院课程产生的因素是什么? 研究式课程的产生较多学系主导成分,最近推出的生物医 学工程哲学硕士博士衔接课程,主要是大学和工程学院主 导的:既立意开拓这方面的学术研究,便要招收研究生。 修课式课程则受社会发展影响较大,如医学院推出的一批 新课程,明显是回应社会对某些专业训练的殷切需求。开 办新课程的理念,初期可能是来自个别教师的构想,非正 式场合的讨论,这往往是重要的创造源头。 英文系系主任 Prof. Simon N. Haines Prof. Simon N. Haines, chairman, Department of English 下期预告 Coming 研究院院长黄永成教授 Prof. Wong Wing-shing, Dean of Graduate School 展望未来,研究生课程需要怎样求变? 哲学博士是研究式课程的重心,这课程的制度沿用了上百 年,严格来说是为立志以学术研究为终身事业的人而设 的。然而,一方面全球学术研究工作的岗位实在有限,另方 面有部分刚念完本科而又想继续进修的,未必确定以投身 学术研究为目标,却由于种种原因,选择了哲学博士课程。 这亦是很多发达国家和地区面对的同一难题:获政府资源 培训的哲学博士,如果最终非以学术研究为终身事业,那是 否资源错配?社会急速发展,对科研人才的需求不断更新, 值得重新检讨课程内容的设计,例如,是否应提供额外训 练,于个别哲学博士课程加入行政管理的知识,像德国将 工业培训纳入课程,又或在哲学博士以外多发展不同的博 士学位等。这都是整个社会跟教育界须共同探讨的。我必 须强调这不是香港单独面对的问题。 如何兼顾教研与行政? 时间分配其实简单不过,因为行政工作有其迫切性,故必 优先处理。教学也是。我仍保持每年教授一科和督导研究 生。一有时间我便会做通讯和信息控制的研究。教学和科 研给我更大的乐趣,尤其是行政工作遇上困难,难题未能 解决时,做研究也可视为调剂。当然,收到学生对课程的 好评,也带给我很大的满足感。 公余有何嗜好? 游泳和音乐是我纾缓工作压力的两大嗜好。无论古典音乐 或中西流行乐曲,只要是有创意、有意境的,我也喜爱。享 受音乐是一种感性的过程,但音乐也有它自身的逻辑和规 律,亦可提供抽象分析的无限空间。 What role does the Graduate School play in CUHK? The Graduate School has a matrix management organization. We don’t have our own teachers. Instead, all of our programmes are moderated by the graduate divisions of different Faculties and departments. The school’s role is to formulate long-term strategies, manage postgraduate programmes, assure quality, provide basic support to postgraduate students, and help them to deal with academic problems by serving as a one-stop information gateway. What support does the Graduate School provide to students? Both research and taught postgraduate programmes require students to demonstrate that they’ve been properly trained in their fields during their undergraduate studies. Building on the depth and breadth of their knowledge, they are expected to move on to develop new ways of thinking or receive further professional training. Improving Postgraduate Learning is the only group of modules organized by the Graduate School. The modules cover topics ranging from information search, laboratory safety, thesis writing, plagiarism, and presentation skills, to languages, which can be described as general knowledge for postgraduate students. The number of postgraduates caught up with that of undergraduates about four or five years ago and has exceeded it ever since. What does this tell us? CUHK has a postgraduate population of about 12,000. The size of postgraduate research population depends on how the University positions itself. The proportion of research postgraduates is usually higher in a research university. In overseas research universities, the research- taught postgraduates ratio is 50:50. We have only 2,000 research postgraduate students. If we have a bigger population of these students, our stature as a research university can be further enhanced. A large proportion of the growth in our postgraduate students is found in the taught programmes which, offered by the eight Faculties, feature an attractive diversity. The major source of students has also shifted from part-time to full-time students. There are several thousands of them and many from mainland China. This is a phenomenon common to all other local universities. Some say postgraduate programmes have become cash cows for universities. What’s your view on this? Taught programmes have operated on a self-financing basis for a dozen years. It’s the government’s view that certain programmes should not be funded by public money although they can meet the needs of society and of students. So it has been decided not to fund these programmes directly. Now, to support the government’s policy of developing Hong Kong into an education hub, we recruit many non-local students. The quality of education and long-term objectives of the University should never be sacrificed for its development. The number of programmes and students cannot increase infinitely. We have to reach a consensus with society regarding the development of the education industry. How is a postgraduate programme conceived of? New research programmes are mainly initiated by academic departments. The newly introduced MPhil– PhD Programme in Biomedical Engineering is a joint brainchild of the University and the Faculty of Engineering. Taught programmes are mainly introduced in response to the needs of society. For example, the Faculty of Medicine has rolled out a number of new programmes to meet needs for training in certain fields. A new programme may originate from a very preliminary idea of a teacher or from informal discussions. How will postgraduate programmes change in the future? PhD programmes form the cornerstone of research programmes. The system has been used for more than a century. Strictly speaking, these are intended for those who want to pursue a career in academia. While academic research provides limited jobs globally, some people who enrol on PhD programmes, due to various reasons, may not be very interested in an academic career after they’ve finished undergraduate studies. Isn’t it a misallocation of resources for the government to fund someone to study a research programme when he or she doesn’t really want to pursue an academic career? This is a problem faced by many developed countries and regions. Demand for scientific research talent changes with the times and societal needs. Maybe it’s time to review our programme designs. Should additional training be provided? For example, adding administrative management knowledge to the PhD programme structure, or adding industrial training to it as the German do, or providing more doctoral degree programmes other than the PhD. I have to point out that this is a problem to be addressed by our community and the education sector at large, and it is not unique to Hong Kong. How do you juggle teaching, research and administrative duties? Allocation of time is easy. Administrative duties take priority because they’re usually urgent in nature. So does teaching. I teach one course a year and serve as a graduate adviser. Whenever I am free, I conduct research on communication and information control. I take much pleasure in teaching and research. When I encounter difficulties in administrative work, research offers me an escape from those problems. Of course, I derive great satisfaction from positive evaluations given by students of a programme. What are your favourite pastimes? I turn to swimming and music for relieving stress at work. I like music that is creative and moodful, be it classical or pop, Chinese or Western. The enjoyment of music is an emotion-laden journey. Music has its own rules and logics, but it also provides us with a rich source for metaphysical thinking.

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