HKU Review Panel: Suggests CE not become Chancellor by Default

PTU News Reporter

The Report of the Review Panel on University Governance of HKU, which was supposed to be completed in the fourth quarter last year, finally came out in February. As reported by the media, the report from the review panel suggests changing the position of Chancellor to be of honorary nature and abolishing the Chief Executive to be the Chancellor of the university by default. IP Kin-yuen, the Legislative Councillor of HKPTU, thinks that the suggestions from the report are about the same in terms of the direction to those in the private bill he published earlier. He expressed his ‘prudent welcome’ towards the report. He urged the HKU Council to publicise the report as soon as possible according to the procedure and conduct an extensive consultation on the report.

Review Panel Report: Chief Executive as the Chancellor would not help strengthening accountability

The HKU established the working group last April to review the governance of the university in response to the urges from the teachers, students and alumni on a structural reform on governance and strengthening protection on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The review panel consists of Professor Malcolm Grant, Chancellor of the University of York; Professor William Kirby from Harvard University and Mr. Peter Van Tu Nguyen, a former High Court judge. The team originally scheduled to complete the report in the fourth quarter last year, but they only managed to complete the work in February and report it back to the HKU Council.

After the completion of the report by the review panel, different news agents revealed that the report suggests the position of the Chancellor should be changed to of honorary nature and to abolish the system of the Chief Executive as the Chancellor of the university by default. The panel thinks that by having the Chief Executive to be the Chancellor cannot strengthen the accountability on the use of public money. Hong Kong already has an effective mechanism which includes the UGC and the EDB for the government to monitor universities. If the system can be abolished, it means that the government is taking its responsibility on safeguarding institutional autonomy and academic freedom. In addition, there is news reporting that Mr. Peter Van Tu Nguyen wrote an addendum objecting to the abolishment of the system of the Chief Executive to be the Chacnellor by default.

IP Kin-yuen: Can only cautiously welcome as the Council has not publicised the report

IP Kin-yuen, the representative of HKPTU in the Legislative Council and also a member of the HKU Court, held a press conference on 27 February to respond on the news. He pointed out that as the HKU Council has not publicised the report yet, he did not have the opportunity to study on the details of the report. At this stage, he could only express his cautious welcome towards the suggestions in the report. From the current messages of the news, the suggestions of the review panel report are merely the same in terms of the direction to those in his private bill earlier. IP Kin-yuen urges the HKU Council to publicise the report as soon as possible with reference to the past experience and conduct an extensive consultation on the report.

HKU Council established a Working Group to follow up on the report

The HKU Council reviewed and considered the review panel report on 28th February and decided to establish a Working Group to follow up on it. Members of the Working Goup include Dr. Brian Stevenson, Professor Henry Chan, Professor Joseph Chan, Mrs. Ayesha Lau, Dr. Patrick Poon and Professor Rosie Young. The HKU Alumni Concern Group published a statement on the same day expressing their disappointment towards the act of not publicising the review panel report. The group also urged the HKU Council to publicise the report as soon as possible to allow stakeholders of the university to express their opinions.