A School of Engineering professor and his team secured two awards at the inaugural Wharton-QS Stars Awards 2014: Reimagine Education, an event that drew more than 425 universities and enterprises from over 40 countries. The contest was organized by The Wharton SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, University of Pennsylvania, and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), publisher of the QS World University Rankings, in December to recognize and share higher education innovations worldwide, enhance learning and nurture employability.
A team led by Prof Ting Chuen Pong, Senior Advisor to the Executive Vice-President and Provost (Teaching Innovation and e-Learning) and Computer Science and Engineering, came second in the hybrid learning category for their Hong Kong Virtual University Program (HKVU), which was established with initial funding from University Grants Committee's Restructuring and Collaboration Fund. The initiative creates a virtual campus for students around the world to study courses offered by universities in Hong Kong.
HKVU enables students to take classes unavailable in their home institution and builds a bridge for students transitioning from secondary school to tertiary education. It also offers lifelong learning opportunities and useful feedback for educators. Courses are delivered through blended learning, which integrates face-to-face teaching with online media and gives students flexibility to learn according to their own timetable.
The hybrid learning category winner was the University of Utah, with HKUST sharing the runner-up position with Delft University of Technology and finishing ahead of Harvard University, which came in third.
In addition, HKUST won the natural sciences subject award for its Chemists Online program under HKVU. The enterprising program gives secondary school students exposure to university-level education through seminars and lab sessions. Over 8,000 students from 140 secondary schools in Hong Kong and Macau have benefited from the project.
"I was delighted that we were able to gain such recognition in the face of strong competition from around the world," said Prof Pong, who became Director of the School of Engineering's pioneering Center for Engineering Education Innovation in January. "These awards show that HKUST is not only committed to innovative education but among the global leaders in its approach and development of such teaching and learning."
The overall contest winners were National Taiwan University and University of Colorado Boulder. Entries were judged by 25 international experts in education and business.