Sunday, October 01, 2017

Prospective University Students

Yesterday our campus was jam packed with young people when we held an Information Day for prospective students.  Many of them looked really young.  Perhaps that should not be too surprising.  The majority of them should be 18 when they enter university next year.  Now they may be barely 17.  

I could be predisposed. But it did appear to me that more females inquired at the health science booths, and they tend to be more vivacious.  At the engineering booths, on the other hand, many of the mostly male clientele seemed content to just hover on the periphery, hoping to snatch a pamphlet or souvenir without having to talk to someone.  I also noticed that many of the engineering booths had only one entrance/exit, which was often obstructed by people or exhibits. So that didn’t help either. 

What kind of student are we going to get next year?  It is well known that the secondary school system and the public examinations in Hong Kong favour students who are obedient, have a good memory, quick, and can optimise for the specific question and answer styles.  These are not exactly the type of students that we look for, but that is what we are going to get.  The fact that their scores at the open examinations do not correlate strongly with their performance in university is revealing, and damning.  

What kind of campus are they coming into?  I pray that people would leave us (teachers and students) alone.  A university is where you ask questions, discuss, learn and grow.  If the university administration is hostile to the students (such as exemplified by the infamous Mr. Li), if the establishment sets too-strict boundaries on what can and cannot be even discussed, if the professors are not allowed to teach and correct the students without undue interference, then I am afraid it is not conducive to learning and growing up.  

Many of the university students turn out to be mature and responsible - in spite of the obstacles posed by the system, not because of them.  This is testimony to the human spirit embodied by the students themselves and the efforts of many of their teachers.  We should applaud them.  Many of the adults in responsible positions certainly have not behaved in honourably ways. 

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