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Getting to Know HKU

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is the oldest higher education institution in Hong Kong, having celebrated its 100th anniversary on March 11 2012. From a modest beginning the University has grown into an exciting world-class research and teaching facility. HKU holds world university rankings of 26 on the QS scale and 40 on the Times Higher Education University ranking system in 2018. 

As a new tutor or demonstrator you are joining a world-class community of scholars of exceptional cultural diversity. A large number of professorial staff are from China, of course, but also significant numbers hail from North America, the UK, various European countries and Australia. As of the end of 2016 the University employed 3,588 academic staff. 59.1% of the professoriate staff (excluding honorary/visiting) are from places other than Hong Kong.

Number of Staff in Headcount (As of October 2016) 1
Type of Staff Regular Temporary All
Academic Staff 1,748 1,840 3,588
Professoriate  1,110 32 1,142
Research Staff 243 1,539 1,782
Non-professoriate Teaching Staff 395 269 664

Student numbers show similar cultural diversity. While the majority of students are of Chinese heritage, sizable numbers of students represent cultures from around the world. In 2016 student headcount numbered 28,396, of which 33.9% are from places other than Hong Kong.

1  The information was retrieved from QuickStats (http://www.cpao.hku.hk/qstats/) on October 2016, which is prepared by the Communications and Public Affairs Office and the figures are supplied by the Management Information Unit, Vice-Chancellor's Office.

In September 2012 HKU will begin a new four-year undergraduate curriculum. The new curriculum, besides covering certain core courses aimed at developing values appropriate to Hong Kong society, will enable students to design their own disciplinary majors, minors and electives. This innovation will give students a new level of freedom to choose their learning experiences. Research postgraduate students are typically involved in innovative and cutting-edge research of local as well as international significance. The University encourages a multidisciplinary approach to research as well as global collaboration.

HKU has adopted an outcome-based approach to student learning (OBASL).  In an outcome-based approach (Biggs, 2011), the learning experience begins with a statement of outcomes, that is, what the student should be able to do at the end of a particular teaching period. The focus is on the student and what they will be able to do; the teaching is then designed to support students in achieving the particular outcomes. In this way OBASL differs from more traditional methods of organizing teaching and learning where the emphasis is placed on teaching inputs and processes such as content, material resources and teaching style.  The thinking is that if these things are done well then the learning outcomes-although not explicitly stated -will be exactly as they should be.   One of the key aspects of OBASL is what John Bigg’s refers to as ‘constructive alignment’; alignment occurs when each aspect of the curriculum works to support the other – the outcomes define the endpoint, the teaching and learning activities support students in developing the kinds of outcomes identified and the assessment enables students to provide evidence that they have achieved the outcomes, and to a particular standard. The relationship is summarized in the following diagram:


The kind of learning experiences which occur in small group tutorials or lab demonstrations provide important opportunities for students to practice and develop the sorts of outcomes that the course or program intends. As such tutors and demonstrators, who play an important role in supporting an outcome-based approach to student learning, will come to understand the alignment between learning outcomes, which guide the teaching and pedagogic practices, which support assessment details, which confirm the success of the experience.