The Open University of Hong Kong (2009) Annual Report 2008-2009 Hong Kong: OUHK

This report marks ’20 years of innovative education’, and illustrates the changes and challenges that many open universities around the world are facing. In the President’s message, Professor John C Y Leong reports:

‘We believe the future of education lies in more effective and flexible blended teaching and learning that can maximize the strengths of different modes of delivery.’ (p. 9).

OUHK started primarily as a print-based distance teaching university supplemented by television and radio. (The Open Learning Institute of Hong Kong was created in 1989, and became the Open University of Hong Kong in 1997). In 2001, OUHK introduced, in addition to its distance learning programs, its first full-time, face-to-face program, which is now delivered through some mainland campuses as well as at its own campus in Hong Kong. In 2007 it established a Centre for Innovation ‘to facilitate a student-centred learning environment that blends the strengths of distance, face-to-face and online learning’ (p. 107).

OUHK became financially independent of the government in 1993, with most of its income coming from student tuition fees. Over the years though private endowments and grants have increased, and in recent years the Chinese government has increasingly matched the OUHK’s fund-raising efforts, particularly for capital projects such as the Phase Two new campus in Hong Kong. Although all its programs are accredited by the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework, it has struggled to be treated as an equal member of Hong Kong’s tertiary education system, in terms of equal funding from the University Grants Committee.

It currently has about 600 staff, and about 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students, of which nearly 10% are face-to-face students.

It is now offering several programs fully online, including an English language Master of Laws in Chinese Business Law, that has attracted students from USA, Europe and the Chinese mainland. It also offers an online MBA program for senior executives of Chinese state-owned enterprises. Many of its courses are offered both in Chinese and English.

Possibly because of the extreme challenges faced by  the OUHK, including a move in 1997 from being in a British dependent territory to being within a special administrative area of the People’s Republic of China, the OUHK has shown much more flexibility than many other open universities in moving to online learning, and now increasingly flexible learning. This says a great deal about the leadership of its current President, Professor John C Y Leong, and his Council and its long-serving chairman, Charles Lee.


Hong Kong – Kowloon (the location of the OUHK main campus) is in the background


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