Our University once again made significant progress and scored many achievements during the year 2012-2013. Its role in the community has been constantly evolving ever since it was established in 1989. It began by pioneering distance learning for a large sector of the working population who had built successful careers but had not had the opportunity to receive tertiary education, as well as those who were seeking to strengthen their academic credentials during their more mature years. Over the years, it has also expanded its focus to help a new generation who are seeking to equip themselves better in an increasingly competitive and globalised world. We do this by constantly striving to assist our students to incorporate education into their busy working lives by introducing a flexible approach in their learning process. To satisfy the needs of lifelong learners, we continuously develop high-quality courses and programmes in many disciplines and at various levels.

Our University’s mission is to make higher education available to all, principally through open and flexible learning. Now into its 24th year, it currently provides more than 250 sub-degree, degree and post-graduate programmes to 12,500 part-time students and 3,800 full-time students on campus, together with another 2,300 students in partnership programmes. Part-time students study primarily in distance learning mode; while most, if not all, full-time students study in face-to-face mode.

To achieve its overall goals, our University has seen the need to invest further in infrastructural support facilities to cope with the demand for more teaching and learning spaces. Many exciting new developments have taken place in this respect during the past year. The most significant of these have been two projects that aim to expand our physical facilities, so that we can realise more fully our mission to make higher education available to everyone.

Preparations for the establishment of our Jubilee College (which was provisionally named ‘New College/Chung Hau Street’ project before June 2013) in Ho Man Tin are now on the home run. We are very fortunate to have been granted this site for our further growth by the Government in the face of competition from other private and self-financing academic institutions. The award represents a vote of confidence in our University and the unique role that we play in the community.

The opening of the Jubilee College early next year will greatly ease the pressure on our existing campus, where we have far less space per student than other government funded universities in Hong Kong. Moreover, it will enable us to strengthen our focus on face-to-face teaching, as well as to play a more significant role in the realisation of three of the six crucial industries included in the Government’s economic growth strategy, namely, medical services, testing and certification, andcultural and creative industries.

The Jubilee College project has been made possible by the generosity of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, which made a sizeable donation, as well as contributions from the business community, our alumni and other well-wishers, and our own resources. We are most grateful to everyone who has assisted us in this respect.

Separately, we have acquired five storeys of commercial space at the Kowloon Commercial Centre in Kwai Chung, where our new learning centre and LiPACE headquarters will open in September. This move is intended to consolidate and rationalise the locations of our sub-degree courses and joint-venture courses with other organisations. The new centre will offer three times the total amount of space we are currently using elsewhere, thus giving us further room for expansion.

The gradual opening up of China’s economy in the past three decades has generated a tremendous thirst for education among its vast population. The reforms that have taken place have created a demand for more cross-fertilisation of both learning and teaching with the outside world. Hong Kong’s academic institutions are in a unique position to fulfil this role.

Our University recognises that any involvement in the mainland needs to be focused and carefully monitored. We will continue to rely on collaboration with local joint-venture partners, with whom we have established long-term relationships for our distance learning and e-learning courses. At the same time, we are always on the lookout for new partners to expand our network in the mainland.

I mentioned earlier the major progress we have made over the past years. This has been possible thanks to the support the University has received from many quarters. They include the Hong Kong Government, the business community, individual and corporate philanthropists and charitable bodies. I would also like to pay tribute to our students, teachers, alumni and friends in the community. We very much appreciate their confidence in us and the backing they have given to our long-term development.

Finally, I would like to express my personal appreciation for the valuable contributions made by the members of the Council. With their continued support, I am confident that our University will go from strength to strength during the years ahead.