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Education for Tomorrow
Prof Kar Yan Tam, Dean of Undergraduate Education

Living in a time of rapid globalization and fierce competition, "lifelong learning” becomes a pre-requisite and generic skills outweigh specialized knowledge.

The HKUST undergraduate program is designed to equip our students with the knowledge, skill-set and experiences essential for a globalized world. It is our mission that graduates of the HKUST have acquired not only professional skills but also a broad knowledge base with outstanding leadership and communication skills.

The introduction of the new academic structure (334) in Hong Kong presents an excellent opportunity for us to further this mission. More innovative teaching approaches will be introduced and our curriculum expanded. With more emphasis on humanities education, cultural development and social responsibilities, we cultivate our students to become competitive and responsible global citizens of tomorrow.

Core Curriculum

A 4-year undergraduate degree structure gives the university a golden opportunity to implement a broader and more diversified curriculum by expanding our multi-disciplinary programmes.

Under the new curriculum, all undergraduate students will be required to complete 36 credits of Common Core requirements regardless of their discipline. By 2012, we will be offering more than 200 Common Core courses which will be grouped under the following core areas:

  • Humanities
  • Science & Technology
  • Social Analysis
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • English Communication
  • Chinese Communication

The curriculum is structured in such a way so that our students can absorb knowledge spanning various fields covering humanities, language, history and artistic education. It is also hoped that by engaging them in discussions of broader social issues like environmental protection, policy making and education, they can learn to integrate and apply their knowledge within and across different learning areas.

HKUST has introduced interim measures to ensure a smooth transition to the new academic structure. Since 2009/2010 academic year, all four of the University’s Schools, namely, Science, Engineering, Business and Management, Humanities and Social Sciences, started offering pilot Common Core Courses and the response was overwhelming.

The introduction of Liberal Studies as a core subject in the new secondary curriculum is intended to equip secondary school leavers with sound generic skills which is a big step forward bridging secondary and tertiary education.

Interdisciplinary Programs

Interdisciplinary education is of paramount importance in today’s world. HKUST has been actively developing interdisciplinary programs in recent years and the Interdisciplinary Programs Office was newly set up to coordinate these programs.

Three popular dual-degree programs, namely, Risk Management and Business Intelligence (BSc), Environmental Management and Technology (BSc), Technology and Management (BEng & BBA), have been introduced so far and we will be launching a series of interdisciplinary programs in coming years to equip our graduates with multiple perspectives and enhanced competitiveness.

All along, the university adopts a credit-based program structure which facilitates a more flexible curriculum design. Students may select dual-degree programs and/or minor programs according to personal interests, abilities and schedules.

Institute for Advanced Study

HKUST is the only university in Hong Kong with an institute dedicated to advanced research. HKUST’s Institute for Advanced Study ("IAS”) has an International Advisory Board composed of 18 of the world’s most eminent Nobel laureates and scientists. The Institute facilitates collaborative projects across disciplines and faculties and serves as an interactive platform for the world’s renowned scientists and scholars.Since inauguration, IAS has been organizing inspiring forums and seminars which were very well attended.

This year’s forums feature Oxford University’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Andrew Hamilton; three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, world renowned writer ("The World is Flat”) and foreign affairs columnist of the New York Times Mr Thomas Friedman; and UC RUSAL Chief Executive Officer Mr Oleg Deripaska.

Distinguished theoretical physicist and cosmologist Prof Henry Tye has been appointed as Director of IAS and will assume office in January 2011. With Prof Tye’s leadership, IAS will further its missions and serve as a catalyst for frontier research and major scientific and technological advances as well as building the UST and Hong Kong as a global intellectual centre.

World Class Faculty and International Community 
The University’s full-time faculty are all PhD qualified and from the world’s top institutions – one of the reasons making the UST a top-ranked tertiary institution in Asia and consistently placed among the very best in the world. To expand faculty strength and to prepare for the implementation of the 4-year degree program, the University plans to recruit 100 top professors globally in the next few years.

As impressive as our international faculty is a dynamic community of international students on campus. UST is home to students from every corner of the globe, making it one of the most culturally-diversified campuses in Hong Kong. This year, 16% of our new students are non-local, with about equal numbers of Mainland and overseas students, in total just over 300 students.

Overseas Exchange

The University’s overseas exchange program is one of the most comprehensive in the world.

To prepare students for an incredibly diverse world, the University has been actively exploring overseas exchange opportunities for students to deepen their understanding and appreciation of different cultures and give them a competitive edge for future development.

The list of HKUST’s partner institutions stretches over 150 top institutions worldwide. In 2009/2010, one third of our undergraduate students had the opportunity to participate in program study at a partner institution for at least one semester (4-6 months). Some of them extended their overseas program to one year.

We anticipate the percentage of UG students engage in international exchange programs will rise to 50% within the next five years.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

HKUST is a research-intensive university. The "Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program” (UROP) established in 2005 is a program that aims at developing undergraduate students’ interest in research. Under the program, an undergraduate student partners with a faculty member to work on a specific research area. The program usually lasts for one semester and students are required to submit a report at the end of the project period.

Since 2005, the number of students and faculty members participating in UROP has grown year by year. Hundreds of students have already participated in the program with most encouraging results. In 2009/2010 academic year alone, more than 30 UROPers armed with research records and publications are accepted directly into PhD Programs by the world’s leading universities and most of them with full scholarships.

UST will further expand the UROP so that more undergraduates will have an early taste of research. This will enable them to accumulate sufficient experiences for future academic or professional pursuits.

For more information, please visit UROP website:

School-based Admission

UST will be introducing a School- based Admission Scheme when the first cohort of NSS students start the 4-year program in 2012. They will be admitted to the University’s four Schools (Science, Engineering, Business and Management, Humanities and Social Science) instead of individual programs. First-year students will focus more on foundation courses. They will only have to choose major at the end of year-one or year two. This will give them more time and greater freedom to consider the field of study they wish to pursue.

Serve Beyond

UST students are encouraged to participate in community services and expand their civic awareness. Three of the University community service initiatives are:

HKUST Connect

Launched in 2009, HKUST Connect is set up to mobilize students (as well as faculty and staff) to build on existing efforts in raising civic awareness, and be actively engaged in learning and service activities for the benefit of the community. Some of the works of HKUST Connect include Sichuan Social Service Program, anti-drug activities and prepare e-learning material for autistic children.

For more information, please visit Connect website:

REDbird Award Program

REDbird Award program is a student development program. Every year about 100 selected students are trained and guided by 20 coaches and trainers to set personal goals, improve and implement the goals. The program is divided into three phases: development training, community service, internship and exchange activities.

For more information, please visit REDbird website:


The NICExSLAM Program aims at fostering social responsibility of future leaders. Community leaders and outstanding professionals from different industries serve as mentors for students. Students will receive comprehensive leadership training for a period of nine months and serve as mentors for disadvantaged children and meet with them regularly. Outstanding participants may serve as interns at leading companies.

There are various other voluntary work and community projects provided by the Schools and student societies.


In view of the NSS and a larger student population, the university has started the campus expansion projects.

Lee Shau Kee Campus

Construction of HKUST’s Lee Shau Kee Campus started in May 2010. Comprising a Business Building and the Institute for Advanced Study and occupying an area of about 10 hectares, the Campus is a key infrastructural component in UST’s preparation for the introduction of the 4-year curriculum in 2012.

Upon completion of the Business building in 2012, the university will be able to serve considerably more students with newer and better facilities. 

New Research and Academic Building

UST received $90 million donation from the Chow Tai Fook Cheng Yu Tung Fund to provide partial support for the construction of a Research and Academic Building. The new building is an eight-storey structure with a total floor of 10,000 square meters.

Designed with an open plan and high flexibility, it will boost cross- disciplinary research facilities. With purpose-built labs, teaching facilities, and complementary ancillary amenities, it will provide a first-class learning and research environment for staff and students.

Student Residential Halls

To meet the spatial needs, construction of two student residential halls is underway. With the completion of these two halls in 2012, HKUST will have a total of nine student halls, providing over 4,000 places.

Responding to the rapid change of our globalized world, our mission is to create a student-centric learning environment and provide ample opportunities for students to equip themselves to the challenges ahead and prime them to be a new generation of informed and responsible global citizens.

HKUST Institute for Advanced Study
Lee Shau Kee Business Building (Scheduled to be completed in 2012)
Research and Academic Building