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Shenzhen campus model can be a guide for followers

By Li Bingcun in Hong Kong | | Updated: 2020-10-21 13:33
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The development model and achievements of the Shenzhen branch of the Chinese University of Hong Kong can offer experience and confidence to other institutions that follow, Xu Yangsheng, the branch's president, said.

In an interview with China Daily, Xu called on more Hong Kong institutions of higher learning to establish branches in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, as doing so will benefit Hong Kong as it further integrates with the 11-city cluster.

Established in 2014, the branch is the first established by a Hong Kong university on the Chinese mainland. It was built on barren land in the suburbs of Shenzhen, near several unused factories. Xu recalled that the school couldn't even offer dormitories to the first batch of student and had to use accommodations at a nearby mainland institution.

In six years, it has developed into a competitive institution that has cultivated more than 6,700 bachelor's and postgraduate students, with leading strengths in business management and science. For the past five years, the branch has had the highest admission levels in Guangdong province.

Xu held that the school's experience could boost confidence, and also offer experience for followers, such as how to collaborate with mainland authorities and organizations, and adjust to mainland law and culture.

CUHK's followers include the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which will open its new campus in Guangzhou's Nansha district in 2022. In April, the Open University of Hong Kong agreed with Zhaoqing's local government to set up a branch there.

The new campus plan came after the release of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area blueprint in 2018. Xu expected that with the latest package of favorable policies, the central government has laid out for Shenzhen, more Hong Kong colleges will have their presence in the Bay Area.

Upon the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Economic Zone's establishment, the central government issued a pivotal reform plan for the city, in which it pledged to support the SEZ to introduce quality overseas educational resources and conduct high-level mainland-overseas educational cooperation.

It also pledged to offer more convenience for overseas professionals to apply for work permission and residency; and relax restrictions for overseas people to obtain professional qualifications.

What's more, at a recent celebration commemorating the SEZ's 40th anniversary, President Xi Jinping emphasized the need to deepen the Bay Area's internal collaboration with more synergized mechanisms.

Given this support, Xu called on other Hong Kong institutions to not miss the boat to expand their influence in the Bay Area.

Xu said the moves could also help cultivate more professional talent in the Bay Area, which would also benefit Hong Kong. He noted that Guangdong's National College Entrance examinees totaled about 1 million last year, about 20 times the number of Hong Kong's Diploma of Secondary Education Examination candidates.

"Many people asked me what benefits the CUHK-SZ would bring to Hong Kong and Shenzhen respectively when it was just set up," Xu said. "I just told them I have never thought about that.

"What I was concerned about was, we needed to cultivate talent that will be needed for the Bay Area 20 years later. Because Shenzhen and Hong Kong are always connected together."

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