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No. 10 16 February 2004


Sir Gordon Wu on CityU
The new Council Chairman, Sir Gordon Wu, paid his first familiarization visit on campus 11 February. He said he was impressed with the achievements of CityU, strongly believing that the value-added education we give, trains our students for the real world. He reckons that among the challenges the University will face in the next decade will be the switch to a four-year curriculum, an increase in student population, cuts in public funding, shortage of space and the offering of self-financing associate degrees. "Challenges also pose opportunities," he told the Management Board members. "I hope you continue the good work you have been doing, and give the biggest bang for the buck" in public funding. "I promise I¡¦ll do my best," he pledged to help the University meet its funding challenges and the need for additional space in the coming years. Sir Gordon also visited the School of Creative Media and the Wireless Communications Laboratory, in addition to meeting the Deans/Provost, representatives of the Law School and the College, walking through the University Concourse. He also toured the student hostels in the afternoon.


The planning of Academic Development Proposals (ADP) 2005¡V08 has started. The University Grants Committee (UGC) invited March submissions from CityU, and the other seven funded institutions, with a letter received in early February. This is the first time that the submissions from the funded institutions will be critically examined according to their respective role statements announced in late January. The UGC will set up a special panel to review CityU¡¦s submission in a vigorous manner, according to Prof David Tong, Deputy President. "Every programme, existing and new, will be looked at critically and tough questions will be asked." Meanwhile, Prof Edmond Ko, Vice-President (Undergraduate Education) met with Deans and Department Heads to kick-start the internal planning process. The University, said Prof Tong, expects a slight increase in student numbers in the coming triennium. It will, however, put up a competitive bid for the 800 top-up places for associate degree holders that the UGC allows for 2005¡V08. Our strength is based on our experience in this area.


Departure scheme
As of 13 February, the day before the application deadline, the Departure Scheme has received 87 applications. The Management Board on 13 February decided to retain the application deadline of 14 February for the Scheme, but late applications based on the merit of individual cases may be accepted by the Advisory Committee. It also decided that, in exceptional cases, if the date of departure for approved cases is extended beyond the normal 30 June 2004 cut-off date, the extended period of service will not be counted in the total length of service for calculating the ex-gratia payment. At a briefing session on 16 January, staff members raised some concerns about the inflexibility of the application date and the extended service beyond the normal departure date. The University has written to the Inland Revenue Department to secure an advance ruling on tax exemption for the ex-gratia payment made under the Scheme.


Housing benefits
The Management Board, in the meeting of 13 February, also approved to revise the housing benefits to be provided to eligible staff appointed on or after 1 July 2004. This is an interim arrangement before the adoption of a "delinked" remuneration package, if applicable, or before 30 June 2005, whichever is earlier. The revised benefits will be the provision of either staff quarters for the contract duration, or the initial period of appointment under superannuable terms. Alternatively, when there are no vacant staff quarters available, a non-accountable cash allowance from HK$8,000 to HK$15,000 per month will be provided in lieu. The provision will be reviewed in due time in connection with the University¡¦s approach to tackling anticipated funding cuts.


Outside practice
From 1 April 2002 to 30 June 2003, the University saw a 24% increase in total income from outside practice, amounting to some HK$26 million. This was mainly attributable to a rise in income from General Education Work by academic and equivalent staff (24% up) and outside work by general grade staff (18% up). The primary objective of outside practice is to help achieve the mission of the University, resulting in benefits to the University and the community. Outside practice comprises three categories: General Education Work (teaching and other non-teaching activities), Professional Services, and Commercial Exploitation of R & D Work.


External appointments
Prof Stephen Cheung, Chair Professor (EF), recently has been appointed member of the Economic and Employment Council, HKSAR Government, for two years. He has also been re-appointed as member of the Standing Committee on Company Law Reform for one year, and as advisor to the Hong Kong Institute of Monetary Research, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, for two years.


Ms Vanessa S W Liu, PhD student, Ms Dimple Ramesh Thadani, year two student, both in the Department of Information Systems, were each awarded a Sir Edward Youde Memorial Scholarship.


More Kudos 
The Reprographics Unit of CityU Press recently received two awards¡XSilver Award in the Combined Printing Category; Bronze Award in the Electrostatic Printing Category¡Xin the First Digital Printing Awards organized by the Hong Kong Digital Printing Association.


Still more kudos
Prof Yang Tong (MA) has been given support for his project under the Joint Research Fund for Hong Kong and Macao Young Scholars of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, until December 2006.


Naming of the HSBC Prosperity Hall, 27 February, 3 pm, Student Hostels, Cornwall Street.


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