A university is only as good as the students and faculty it attracts. Recruiting top-quality students is therefore no less important than securing top-quality faculty that teach them.
The recruitment of non-local students is a both an art and a science, where knowledge of the catchment areas, including their education systems, come into play. It also takes intelligent planning plus a rational and transparent selection mechanism. At the interview level, there is the subtle art of judging character and discerning potential.
HKUST now boasts the highest percentage of non-local students in its undergraduate intake among sister institutions. This year, we are first among peers at 18%, up from 16% last year. We are fast approaching the 20% ceiling set by the government for the intake of non-local students.
The HKUST recruitment mechanism for the Mainland is one of the most democratic and transparent in local higher education for two reasons: Unlike others, we place the utmost importance on the personal interview. Our admission is largely school-based, with faculty members sitting on the 3-member selection teams we send out. No single person has the final say in who we accept. Each school also has its ideal student profile. The Business School, for example, tends to give greater weight to a student's performance at the selection interview, in which communication and other social skills may be the deciding factors, other things being equal. The School of Science may prefer students with a bent towards research. Little wonder that the university has been able to keep complaints about its selections to a minimum.
Also, unlike some local universities who favor the National Joint Selection system, we have opted for an Independent Selection system. This gives us a greater say in who we invite for interviews.
As HKUST's international rankings climb up the charts, we become a name that attracts applicants on the mainland. This year over 4500 qualified applicants vied for 165 placements. We even managed to snag the top-scorer in science in Beijing. We might have even done better except for the fact that, being a university of science and technology, we have no law school, no medical school, or school of architecture.
Significantly, our non-local intake is spread evenly between Mainland and overseas students, an almost 50-50 split. So, when we say we are an international university, it is no idle boast.
This year, our promotional efforts on the mainland take another form. Our President went to give a talk to the elite No.4 High School in Beijing. Prof YS Wong, VPAB, took our message to another leading school in Hangzhou, while Dr Eden Woon VPIA did the same at a well-known high school in Shanghai. For local students, our President has been making appearances in Hong Kong secondary schools, with plans afoot to speak to international schools in our city.
HKUST is increasingly becoming a multicultural mosaic, as reflected in diversity of overseas students on our campus. They hail from Northern Europe, South-east Asia as well as Korea, for a total of 151.
Two of Malaysia's top eight straight-A students, landed at HKUST this year. Chow Jun Kang, whose father is an engineer, is enrolled in our Civil and Environmental Engineering program. He has a sense of mission to protect the fragile earth. Here to broaden horizons, he likes the sense of freedom at HKUST. Wilson Lye Wei King now in our Mechanical Engineering program, speakes modestly of improving on his weaknesses, and is hungry for new experiences. With an old head on his young shoulders, he says that to fully appreciate freedom, one needs to have self-discipline. Both are happy with their choices and full of praise for HKUST, saying that this university is everything it is cracked up to be.
With our ability to attract such high-caliber students, HKUST is helping to realize Hong Kong's dream of becoming an education hub.