The University of Hong Kong
(informally Hong Kong University, or simply
HKU, ) is the oldest tertiary institution in Hong Kong.
Its motto is "Sapientia et Virtus
, meaning "wisdom and virtue", and " "
. The official language of instruction
University is referred by Quacquarelli Symonds as a
"world-class comprehensive research university" and was
ranked 24th in the 2009 THES - QS World University
Rankings , making it 2nd in Asia (after
In 2009, it was ranked the 1st in Asian
universities by Quacquarelli
The Main Building in 1912
The University of Hong Kong traces its origins to the former
College of Medicine for Chinese
, founded by the London Missionary Society
and Sun Yat-sen
's alma mater
. Based on the founding date of 1887, the
University is arguably the oldest modern university in Greater China, beating Nanjing
University (founded 1888) by a year.
The University itself was founded when Sir Frederick Lugard
Lugard, 1st Baron Lugard), Governor of Hong Kong
, proposed to
establish a university in Hong Kong. Lugard felt an urgent need to
establish a university in China to compete with the other Great Powers
universities in China, most notably Prussia
which had just opened Tongji
. The colonial
shared British values and
allowed Britain to expand its influence in southern China and
consolidate its rule in Hong Kong.
HKU Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody
businessman Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody
learned of Lugard's plan and pledged to donate HK$150,000 towards
the construction and HK$30,000 towards other costs. The Hong Kong Government
and the business
sector in southern China, which were both equally eager to learn
"secrets of the West's success" (referring to technological
advances made since the Industrial
), also gave their support. The Swire Group
also contributed funds, due to an
industrial accident injuring many Chinese sailors that required
repair of the company's public image
Along with other donors including the United Kingdom government
companies such as HSBC
, Lugard finally had
enough to build the university.
Lugard laid the foundation stone
the Main Building on 16 March 1910 and hoped that the university
would educate more Chinese people in British "imperial values", as
opposed to those of other Western
December 1916: first congregation
The University was formally established in 1911 and had its opening
ceremony in 1912. As Lugard felt that Chinese society at the
time was not suited to ideals such as communism, the University originally emulated the
Manchester in emphasising the sciences
over the humanities.
with only a Faculty of
, which had evolved from the Hong Kong College of
Medicine. However, within a year the Faculties of Engineering and
Arts (which then did not offer sociology
degrees) were established.
In December 1916, the University held its first congregation, with
23 graduates and 5 honorary graduates.
Move towards Chinese cultural education, and WW2
After the 1925-26 Canton-Hong Kong strikes
government moved towards greater integration of Eastern culture,
increasing the number of Chinese courses. In 1927, a degree in
Chinese was created. Donations from wealthy businessmen Tang Chi
Ngong and Fung Ping Shan - for whom campus buildings are named
after - triggered an emphasis on Chinese cultural education. In
1941, the Japanese invasion of Hong
led to the damage of university buildings, and the
University closed until 1945.
The University was founded as an all-male institution. Women
students were admitted for the first time only ten years later. In
1937, the Queen Mary
opened and has served as the University's teaching
hospital ever since.
After World War II
, the University
reopened and underwent structural developments as post-war
reconstruction efforts began in earnest, requiring more investment
. The Faculty of Social Sciences was established in
1967 and the Law Department in 1969. The student population in 1961
was 2,000, four times more than in 1941.
In 1982, the Faculty of Dentistry, based at the Prince Philip
Dental Hospital, was established. It remains to this day Hong Kong's only faculty training dental
In 1984, both the School of Architecture and
School of Education became fully-fledged faculties, and in the same
year a separate Faculty of Law was created. The Faculty of Business
and Economics was established in 2001 as the University's tenth and
1989, the Hong Kong government began emphasising local tertiary
college (大專) education, retaining many local students who would
have studied abroad in the United Kingdom.
In preparation for the 1997 handover
also greatly increased student places and course variety.
Consequently, the 2001 student population had grown to 14,300 and
degree courses on offer numbered over a hundred.
nurtured the largest number of research postgraduate students in
Kong, making up approximately 10% of the total student
All ten faculties and departments provide
teaching and supervision for research (MPhil and PhD) students with
administration undertaken by the Graduate School. Due to this
emphasis on research, including successful efforts during the
in 2003, many University
laboratories have earned the status of "State Key Laboratory"
About 45% of the University's academic staff are recruited from
2001: 90th anniversary
The year 2001 marked the 90th Anniversary of HKU. Growing with
Hong Kong: HKU and its Graduates - The First 90 Years
published by the University Press in 2002 as an impact study on
HKU's graduates in different fields of Hong Kong.
2006: renaming of Faculty of Medicine
In January 2006, despite protest from some students and various
alumni, the Faculty of Medicine was renamed as the Li Ka Shing Faculty of
"as a recognition of the generosity" of Mr. Li Ka Shing
and his Foundation, who pledged
1 billion in support of the University
"general development as well as research and academic activities in
Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms was designed according to
a recommendation by the College of Arms in England, and bore
today's crest and motto on 14 May 1913.
HKU Coat of Arms
In October 1912, HKU
had already got the design from a College of Arms letter. Although
the designer was not known, it was assumed to be someone familiar
with school crest design. From this design, one can see HKU's early
aspiration to blend East and West.
During the university's 70th anniversary in 1981, it applied to the
College of Arms for a redesigned crest with a helmet and beasts on
either side; this was approved in 1984. As a result, HKU became
Hong Kong's only university with a complete coat of arms.
The East Gate
The West Gate
university's main campus covers 160,000 square metres of land on
Road and Pok Fu Lam Road
in the Mid-levels of Hong Kong Island.
A view of Eliot Hall and Meng Wah
HKU buildings are
some of the few remaining examples of British Colonial architecture
in Hong Kong.
Li Ka Shing Faculty of
Medicine is situated 4.5 km southwest of the main campus,
in the Southern District near Sandy Bay
and Pok Fu Lam.
The medical campus
includes Queen Mary
, the William M.W. Mong Building and research
facilities. The Faculty of Dentistry is situated in the Prince
Philip Dental Hospital, Sai Ying Pun.
university also operates the Kadoorie Agricultural Research Center,
which occupies 95,000 square metres of land in the New Territories, and the Swire Institute of Marine Science at the
southern tip of the d'Aguilar Peninsula on Hong Kong Island.
Main Building corridor
The oldest structure in the University of Hong Kong was sponsored
by Sir Hormusjee Naorojee
and designed by Architect Messrs Leigh & Orange.
Constructed between 1910 and 1912, it originally comprised two
courtyards in the post-renaissance style built with red brick and
granite. The main elevation is articulated by four turrets with a
central clock tower (a gift from Sir Paul
in 1930). Two courtyards were added in the south in 1952
and one floor in the end block in 1958. It was originally used as
classrooms and laboratories for the Faculty of Medicine and
Engineering and is now the home of various departments within the
Faculty of Arts. The central Great Hall (Loke
Hall) is named after Mr. Loke Yew
a benefactor of the University in its early years. It became a
Hung Hing Ying Building (孔慶熒樓)
The Science building
Financed by Sir Paul Chater
and others, it was opened in
1919 by the Governor of Hong
Kong Sir Reginald Stubbs
housed the student union
World War II
, the building was used
temporarily for administrative purposes. The East Wing was added in
1960. The building was converted into the Senior Common Room
in 1974. It was named
in honour of Mr Hung Hing Ying in 1986 for his family's donations
to the university. The building was subsequently used again for
administrative purposes, and now houses the Department of Music.
This two-storey Edwardian style structure is characterised by a
central dome and the use of red brick to emulate the Main Building
opposite. The building was declared a monument in 1995.
Tang Chi Ngong Building (鄧志昂樓)
The idea to establish a school of Chinese was proposed between the
two World Wars. Construction of the premises began in 1929 with a
generous donation from Mr Tang Chi-ngong, father of the
philanthropist Sir Tang Shiu-kin, after whom the building was
named. It was opened by Governor
of Hong Kong Sir
in 1931 and since then further donations have been
received for the endowment of teaching Chinese language and
literature. The building has been used for other purposes since the
1970s but the name remained unchanged. At present, it houses the
Centre of Asian Studies. This three-storey flat-roofed structure is
surfaced with Shanghai plaster and was declared a monument in
University Museum and Art Gallery
The Fung Ping Shan Museum
The three-storey Fung Ping Shan Museum was originally erected in
1932 as a library for Chinese books. Named after its donor, the
building consists of masonry on the ground level surmounted by a
two-storey red-brick structure with applied ornamental columns
topped by a pediment over its entrance. Since 1962, the Chinese
books collection, now known as the Fung Ping Shan Library, was
transferred to the University's new Main Library and the whole
building was converted into a museum for Chinese art and
archaeology. Among its prized collections are ceramics, pottery and
bronzes. In 1996, the lowest three floors of the new T. T. Tsui
Building were added to the old building to form the University
Museum and Art Gallery.
The TT Tsui Building
to the Times Higher
Education Supplement 2008 World University Rankings, HKU is
ranked 26th in the world, 3rd in Asia and 1st in the Greater China region which includes People's
Republic of China, Hong Kong SAR,
SAR, and Taiwan .
Robert Black College
HKU was also included in the 2006 Newsweek
rankings of the Top 100 Global Universities.
The University's Chancellor is the Chief Executive of Hong
,Donald Y. K. Tsang
Vice-Chancellor is Professor Lap-Chee
. The Pro-Chancellor is David
, the Deputy Vice Chancellor is Professor R. Y. C. Wong, and
the Pro-Vice-Chancellors are Professor S. P. Chow, Professor J. H.
W. Lee, Professor J. G. Malpas, Professor P. K. H. Tam and
Professor A. B. M. Tsui. The academic staff population is over
Professor Ian Davies was the Vice-Chancellor for two years before a
worldwide search culminated in the selection of Professor Lap-Chee
Tsui as the new head of the University in 2002.
Research and endowment
The University of Hong Kong is a founding member of Universitas 21
, an international consortium
of research-led universities. HKU benefits from a large operating
budget supplied by high levels of government funding compared to
many Western countries. Since 1991, the Research Grants Council
(RGC) has granted the University of Hong Kong a total of HK$893
million, the highest amount amongst all eight universities in the
. HKU professors were among the highest paid in
the world as well, having salaries equalling or exceeding those of
their U.S. counterparts in private
. However, with the reduction of salaries in recent
years, this is no longer the case.
39 academic staff from HKU are ranked among the world's top 1% of
scientists by the ISI, by means of the citations recorded on their
According to the latest profile indicators 
the student population of the University was 23,400 in 2007–2008,
comprising 12,150 undergraduates, 11,250 taught postgraduates.
There were 3,300 non-local students studying at the
HKU attracts some of the best students in Hong Kong. For the last
five years, the University has admitted around 50% of all the Hong
Kong A-level Grade-A students. It accepts most of its undergraduate
students from Form 7 graduates of local secondary schools through
University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS)
University also operates an Early
(EAS) which allows Form 6 students with at
least 6 Grade A in the HKCEE
or at least 6 A* in GCSE
(international schools) results to join the
University without sitting the Hong Kong A-Level Examination. In
2005–2006, over 50% of all students eligible to apply through the
Early Admission Scheme
HKU as their first choice.
The university comprises 10 faculties and a number of non-faculty
academic units, which provide study programmes and courses for
students (source: http://hku.hk):
The School of Professional and Continuing Education
was established in 1956 to
provide different levels of continuing education
on a wide range of
subjects, for instance, Japanese language courses and Mandarin
language courses. HKU SPACE runs its programmes without subsidy
from the Hong Kong Government
and it has recently evolved into a community college-type
institution, somewhat similar to community colleges
in the US.
HKU SPACE Community College
One of the HKU SPACE campuses
HKU SPACE Community College was established in March 2000. It
mainly provides sub-degree programmes for Form 5 or Form 7
graduates to further their studies. There are three main streams of
programmes provided, they are Higher Diploma Programmes (2- or
3-year full time), Pre-Associate Degree (1-year full time) and
Associate Degree (2-year full time).
(HKUL) was established in 1912 and is the oldest academic library
in Hong Kong with over 2.3 million holdings. While the total stock
in physical volumes has been growing, the electronic collection has
also expanded rapidly. A web-based library catalogue, DRAGON
, allows one to
search HKUL's books, journals and other resources.
HKUL now comprises the Main
and six specialist branch libraries, the Dental
, Fung Ping
(East Asian Language), Yu Chun Keung
, Lui Che Woo Law
and the Music
Library. They are located in buildings around the campus with
varying opening hours.
HKUL Digital Initiatives
, through its digitization projects, has
opened up online access to local collections originally in print
format. The first HKUL Digital Initiative, ExamBase, was launched
in 1996 and other projects of scholarly interests were subsequently
introduced. More digital projects are being developed to provide
continuous access to digital content and services. It now provides
to a number of
Chinese and English academic and medical periodicals published in
The university provides other services to meet students' personal
Student accommodation and hall education
The largest residential hall in HKU,
Mostly male and female with shared room types unless specified.
- Hornell Hall (male only)
- Duchess of Kent Hall (female only)
- Lee Chi Hung Hall (co-educational)
The Students' Union
There are two officially recognised student bodies, giving
opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular
The Hong Kong
University Students' Union
(HKUSU) principally serves the
organization is renowned amongst student activists, having been the
main driving force behind evicting a chancellor in recent years.
There was controversy when the head of the Students' Union, Ayo
Chan, said that some of the protesters involved in the Tiananmen
Square Massacre had acted irrationally. Many students thought his
remarks were offensive and he was ousted by a vote in under one
week. The Postgraduate Students Association (PGSA)
People affiliated with HKU
Being the oldest and the only university in Hong Kong for decades,
the University of Hong Kong has educated many notable people.
them was Dr Sun Yat-sen, founding
president of the Republic of China, who was a graduate of the Hong Kong College of
Medicine for Chinese, the predecessor of HKU.
principal officials, permanent secretaries, and Executive
Council/Legislative Council members of the Hong Kong SAR Government
are HKU graduates. HKU graduates also form the senior management
teams of many large organisations in the private sector, covering
many business and professional fields.
Study abroad programme
In 2009, the Times
Higher Education Supplement
ranked the University of Hong Kong
in the world. Student welfare is served by several units,
including the Centre of Development and Resources for Students
(CEDARS), which provides guidance for most areas of student life;
and University Health Service, which provides health care, referrals and
This student run organization offers
more than 100 clubs and associations catering to the diverse
interest of the student population.
Studying abroad students will be assigned to a local student who
they can correspond with prior to departure for Hong Kong. These
local students assist visiting students upon arrival at the
airport, assist with settling into student residence and offer
advice and support during their stay.
To date, more than 3,000 students have participated in the exchange
programmes through universities spanning 18 countries around the
world with the support of the University Grants
, the University of Hong Kong Foundation for
Educational Development and Research, the Hongkong Bank
, the UBC Alumni Association (Hong Kong), the Dr. Lee
Shiu Scholarships for Hong Kong and South-East Asia Academic
Exchange, Shell (Hong Kong) Limited, and the C.V. Starr Scholarship
Fund and other donations.
In 2003, the HKU management panel put forth a strategic development
plan with the goal of placing HKU even higher among the world's
best universities in the next decade or so.
The University will build a new campus, the Centennial Campus, west
of the Main Campus. The construction of the Centennial Campus will
begin in 2008, and will be completed by 2011.
In addition to increased academic research and development, HKU
also aims to promote continuing education to the public, through
improved links between the University and the School of Professional and Continuing Education
HKU is also trying to better its alumni and external network for
financially sustainable development.
Notes and references
- QS.com Asian University Rankings 2009
- HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine - About Us - History
- State Key
Laboratory official website (Chinese)
- HKU SPACE - Introduction to the School
- Asia Learn University of Hong Kong
- Office of International Student Exchange