University of Hong Kong

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"HKU" redirects here. For the MTR station, see HKU Station. For other uses, see HKU (disambiguation).
The University of Hong Kong
HKU Coat of Arms.png
Arms of The University of Hong Kong
Motto Sapientia et Virtus (Latin)
明德格物 (Chinese)
Motto in English
Wisdom and Virtue
Established 30 March 1911 (1911-03-30)
Type Public
Chairman Leong Che-hung Chairman of the Council
Chancellor Leung Chun-ying
President Peter Mathieson

Steven J. Cannon Executive Vice-President (Administration and Finance)
Chow Shew-Ping Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (University Relations)
Paul Tam Kwong Hang Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Ian Holliday Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning)
Provost Roland T. Chin Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Vice-Chancellor Peter Mathieson
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 27,440[2]
Undergraduates 15,560[2]
Postgraduates 11,880[2]
Location Pokfulam, Hong Kong
22°17′03″N 114°08′16″E / 22.28417°N 114.13778°E / 22.28417; 114.13778Coordinates: 22°17′03″N 114°08′16″E / 22.28417°N 114.13778°E / 22.28417; 114.13778
Campus Urban
53.1 hectares (0.531 km2)[3]
Newspaper Sapientia HKU (English);
Undergrad HKUSU (Chinese)
Colours      Dark Green[4]
Mascot Lion
Affiliations ASAIHL, Universitas 21, ACU, JUPAS, AACSB, EQUIS, APRU, UGC, Heads of Universities Committee, Joint Quality Review Committee
University of Hong Kong Logo.svg
University of Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese 香港大學
Simplified Chinese 香港大学

The University of Hong Kong (often abbreviated as HKU, informally known as Hong Kong University) is a public research university located in Pokfulam, Hong Kong, founded in 1911 during the British Colonial era. It is the oldest tertiary institution in Hong Kong, originally established to compete with other Great Powers that had opened higher learning institutions in China at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, established in 1887, evolved to be the medical faculty, one of its first three faculties alongside Arts and Engineering. Academic life at the university was disrupted by the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong; however, following the end of the Second World War, the university underwent expansion with the founding of further departments and faculties.[5]

Today, HKU is organised into 10 academic faculties with English as the main language of instruction. It exhibits strength in scholarly research and education of humanities, law, political sciences, and biomedicine, and is the first team in the world which successfully isolated the corona virus, the causative agent of SARS.[6]



The Main Building in 1912.
Sir Frederick Lugard, Governor of Hong Kong and first Vice-Chancellor (1910–12) of The University of Hong Kong
Bust of Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody, located in the Main Building.

The University of Hong Kong was founded in 1911 when Governor Sir Frederick Lugard proposed to establish a university in Hong Kong to compete with the other Great Powers opening universities in China, most notably Prussia, which had just opened Tongji University in Shanghai. The colonial Hong Kongers shared British values and allowed Britain to expand its influence in southern China and consolidate its rule in Hong Kong.[citation needed] Indian businessman Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody learned of Lugard's plan and pledged to donate HK$150,000 towards the construction and HK$30,000 towards other costs.[7] The Hong Kong Government and the business sector in southern China, which were both equally eager to learn "secrets of the West's success" (referring to technological advances made since the Industrial Revolution), also gave their support. The government contributed a site at West Point; Swire Group also contributed £40,000 to endow a chair in Engineering, and thousands of dollars in equipment. The aim was partly to bolster its corporate image following the death of a passenger on board one of its ships, Fatshan, and the subsequent unrest stirred by the Self-Government Society.[8] Along with other donors including the British government and companies such as HSBC, Lugard finally had enough to fund the building of the university.

Charles Eliot was appointed its first Vice-Chancellor.[7] As Governor of Hong Kong, Lugard laid the foundation stone of the Main Building on 16 March 1910 and hoped that the university would educate more Chinese people in British "imperial values", as opposed to those of other Western powers.[citation needed] The university was incorporated in Hong Kong as a self-governing body of scholars on 30 March 1911 and had its official opening ceremony on 11 March 1912. The university was founded as an all-male institution. Women students were admitted for the first time only ten years later.[5]

As Lugard felt that the Chinese society at the time was not suited to ideals such as communism, the university originally emulated the University of Manchester in emphasising the sciences over the humanities.[citation needed] It opened with three founding faculties, Arts, Engineering and Medicine.[5][9] The Faculty of Medicine was founded as the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese by the London Missionary Society in 1887.[10] Of the College's early alumni, the most renowned was Sun Yat-sen,[5] who led the Chinese Revolution, changed China from an empire to a republic. In December 1916, the university held its first congregation, with 23 graduates and five honorary graduates.

Move towards Chinese cultural education, and WW2[edit]

Main Building in 1946, with visible damage from the Second World War.

After the 1925–26 Canton-Hong Kong strikes, the government moved towards greater integration of Eastern culture, increasing the number of Chinese courses. In 1927, a degree in Chinese was created. Donations from wealthy businessmen Tang Chi Ngong and Fung Ping Shan – for whom campus buildings are named after – triggered an emphasis on Chinese cultural education. In 1937, the Queen Mary Hospital opened and has served as the university's teaching hospital ever since. In 1941, the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong led to the damage of university buildings, and the university closed until 1945.

1945 to 2001[edit]

Following the Second World War, the university reopened and underwent structural developments as post-war reconstruction efforts began in earnest, requiring more investment in law and social sciences. The Faculty of Social Sciences was established in 1967 and the Law Department in 1969. The student population in 1961 was 2,000, four times more than in 1941.

In 1982, the Faculty of Dentistry, based at the Prince Philip Dental Hospital, was established. It remains to this day Hong Kong's only faculty training dental professionals. In 1984, both the School of Architecture and School of Education became fully-fledged faculties, and in the same year a separate Faculty of Law was created. The Faculty of Business and Economics was established in 2001 as the university's tenth and youngest faculty.

After 1989, the Hong Kong government began emphasising local tertiary education, retaining many local students who would have studied abroad in the United Kingdom. In preparation for the 1997 handover, it also greatly increased student places and course variety. Consequently, by 2001 the student population had grown to 14,300 and over one hundred degree courses were available to students.

2001 to present[edit]

The year 2001 marked the 90th Anniversary of HKU. Growing with Hong Kong: HKU and its Graduates – The First 90 Years was published by the Hong Kong University Press in 2002 as an impact study on HKU's graduates in different fields of Hong Kong.

In January 2006, despite protest from some students and various alumni, the Faculty of Medicine was renamed as the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine "as a recognition of the generosity" of Mr. Li Ka Shing and his Foundation, who pledged HK$1 billion in support of the university "general development as well as research and academic activities in medicine".[citation needed]

On 16 August 2011 Communist Party of China Vice Premier Li Keqiang began a three-day visit to promote development between Hong Kong and mainland China.[11][12] The university was locked down and mishandled by the local police force causing the Hong Kong 818 incident.[13] In a statement to the HKU community, the university's 14th Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lap-chee Tsui, admitted that the security arrangements could have been better planned and organised, and apologised to the university's students and alumni for not having been able to prevent the unhappy incident. He assured them that "the University campus belongs to students and teachers, and that it will always remain a place for freedom of expression".[14] On 30 August 2011, the university's Council resolved to set up a panel to review issues arising from the State leader's visit, to improve arrangements and establish policies for future university events that is consistent with its commitment to freedom of expression.

From 2010 to 2012, the university held Centenary Celebrations to mark its 100th anniversary. It also marked the opening of the Centennial Campus located at the western end of the university site in Pokfulam.[15] The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital (also known as Binhai Hospital), which is operated by the university, also opened in 2011.[16][17]

On 10 April 2015, HKU declared itself as the first university in the world to join HeForShe, a UN initiative urging the male members to achieve more female rights.[18] Also, HKU promises that it will triple the number of female dean-level members by 2020, more than 1 out of 5 HKU deans will be female.[19]

2015 political interference[edit]

Johannes Chan

The HKU Council made headlines in 2015 for alleged political interference behind the selection process for a new pro-vice chancellor. A selection committee unanimously recommended the council appoint Johannes Chan to a post responsible for staffing and resources that had been left vacant for five years.[20] Chan, the former dean of the Faculty of Law, is a distinguished scholar in constitutional law and human rights and "a vocal critic on Hong Kong’s political reform issues".[21][22] Owing to his liberal political stance, Chan has been roundly criticised by pro-Beijing media including Wen Wei Po, which published more than 300 articles attacking him, as well as Ta Kung Pao.[20][23] Communist Party-controlled newspaper Global Times also bashed Chan, calling him a "ringleader" of the 2014 pro-democratic protests.[24]

Customarily the HKU Council accepts the recommendations of search committees for senior posts, with no prior recommendation having been rejected by the council in the university's history.[21][25][26] The council was criticised when it delayed the decision to appoint Chan, stating that it should wait until a new provost was in place. In September 2015, HKU alumni held an Extraordinary General Meeting at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and held a non-binding vote on the issue. 7,821 out of 9,298 attending alumni voted to confirm the recommendation of Chan to the post, although this was merely a symbolic motion.

Later that month, the council rejected Chan's appointment (12 votes to eight) through an anonymous vote in a closed meeting, providing no reason for the decision.[20] Political interference was widely suspected and the opacity of the council criticised.[25] The decision is seen as a pro-government act of retaliation against "pro-democracy leaders and participants" and a blow to academic freedom.[21][25] Six members of the council are directly appointed by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, who acts as chancellor of all publicly funded tertiary institutions in the territory.[27] Five members are delegates to the National People’s Congress in Beijing, and as such are obliged to toe the Communist Party line or otherwise risk expulsion.[28] In overall council makeup, university students and staff are outnumbered by members from outside the university.[28]

After the decision, Johannes Chan said that as a statutory publicly funded body, the council should act in an open and transparent manner and confirmed that he thought that his rejection was politically motivated.[29] Other key international public law scholars came to Chan's defence. Yash Ghai stated that "as a long-serving member of HKU [...] it grieves me greatly to see the council turn to these nasty tricks to deny [Chan the job] in order to – one must assume – appease the Chinese government".[29] Jerome A. Cohen compared the vote to a Mao-era political tactic and called the decision "very sad news for Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom".[28] Roderick MacFarquhar called the vote an example of the Chinese government's push under Xi Jinping to eradicate so-called Western values.[28]

The Hong Kong University Students’ Union called the decision unjust and unfair, and demanded an explanation from the council members who voted against Chan's appointment.[20] The Hong Kong Federation of Students stated that "the Hong Kong Communist administration has brazenly invaded Hong Kong's higher education, [and] political suppression of academia is now a fact".[20] Education lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said "It's obvious that the decision was a political one [...] Academic freedom will no longer exist after this."[30] Others noted that the decision would serve as a warning to other academics not to engage in pro-democratic politics, and would severely tarnish Hong Kong's reputation for academic freedom and educational excellence.[26][30]

Billy Fung Jing-en, as president of the Hong Kong University Students' Union, was present during the meeting. He breached the council's confidentiality rules by revealing details of the discussion to the public. Fung stated that some council members said Chan was not qualified to be pro-vice chancellor because he lacks a doctorate degree, and quoted member Arthur Li as stating that Chan may have been appointed dean of law simply because he is a "nice guy". Another council member complained that Chan had not shown him enough sympathy when he fell down during an earlier council meeting.

HKU Council chairman Edward Leong called Fung's leak a "deplorable action", accusing him of using "dishonest means to achieve his aim". Other council members criticised Fung's integrity, but refused to reveal what they had said during the meeting.[29] Education professor Li Hui said that Fung was "too young" to understand what is fair.[31] Fung responded that upholding institutional transparency is more important than the confidentiality rules.[32] The council will hold a meeting on Fung's act and can potentially expel him from the council.[33]

The law faculty released a rare statement defending Chan against the council members who said he was not suitable for the post. The statement said that the accusations leveled against Chan were groundless, and that "[The faculty] refutes in the strongest possible terms unfair criticisms that were said to have been made [...] Chan is internationally recognised as a leading scholar in his field. He was appointed dean of law for his vision, his leadership, his integrity, his passion for legal education, and above all his outstanding abilities. We have been fortunate to have him at the helm of the faculty."[31][34]


Eliot Hall and Meng Wah Complex
The Tsui Building
The Kadoorie Biological Sciences Building and the Pillar of Shame.

The university's main campus covers 160,000 square metres of land on Bonham Road and Pokfulam Road in the Mid-Levels of Hong Kong Island. HKU buildings are some of the few remaining examples of British Colonial architecture in Hong Kong.

The Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine is situated 4.5 km southwest of the main campus, in the Southern District near Sandy Bay and Pokfulam. The medical campus includes Queen Mary Hospital, the William M.W. Mong Building and research facilities. The Faculty of Dentistry is situated in the Prince Philip Dental Hospital, Sai Ying Pun.

The university also operates the Kadoorie Agricultural Research Centre, which occupies 95,000 square metres of land in the New Territories, and the Swire Institute of Marine Science at the southern tip of the d'Aguilar Peninsula on Hong Kong Island.

Main building[edit]

Main Building corridor

Constructed between 1910 and 1912, the Main Building is the university's oldest structure and was sponsored by Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody and designed by Architect Messrs Leigh & Orange.[35] It is built in the post-renaissance style with red brick and granite and has two courtyards. The main elevation is articulated by four turrets with a central clock tower (a gift from Sir Paul Chater in 1930). The two courtyards were added in the south in 1952 and one floor in the end block in 1958. The building was originally used as classrooms and laboratories for the Faculty of Medicine and Engineering and was later the home of departments within the Faculty of Arts. The central Great Hall (Loke Yew Hall) is named after Loke Yew, a benefactor of the university in its early years. It became a declared monument in 1984.[36]

Swire building[edit]

In around 1980, the Swire Group sponsored the building of a new residential hall in the eastern end of the campus. Because of the sponsorship, the new student residence was named Swire Building. The building was officially opened by Mr. John Anthony Swire, C.B.E. on 11 November 1980. In 1983, the colour orange was chosen to be the hall colour in the second Annual General Meeting since the colour was used as the background colour during the first open day of Swire Hall and no other halls using orange as their hall colour.

In 1983, Mrs. J. Lau (Director of Centre Media Resources) provided a design of a hall logo. The Swire Hall Students' Association, HKUSU, then made some amendments to that design. The logo shows the words 'S' and 'H', which is the abbreviation of Swire Hall. The design of the word 'S' looks like two hands holding together, signifying that all hall-mates should co-operate with each others, and promotes the hall motto 'Unity and Sincerity'.

Hung Hing Ying Building[edit]

Financed by Sir Paul Chater, Professor G. P. Jordan and others, it was opened in 1919 by the Governor of Hong Kong Sir Reginald Stubbs and housed the students' union. After World War II, the building was used temporarily for administrative purposes. The East Wing was added in 1960. The building was converted into the Senior Common Room in 1974. It was named in honour of Mr Hung Hing Ying in 1986 for his family's donations to the university. The building was subsequently used again for administrative purposes, and now houses the Department of Music. The two-storey Edwardian style structure is characterised by a central dome and the use of red brick to emulate the Main Building opposite. The building became a declared monument in 1995.

Tang Chi Ngong Building[edit]

The idea to establish a school of Chinese was proposed in the inter-war period. Construction of the premises began in 1929 following a donation from Tang Chi-ngong, father of the philanthropist Sir Tang Shiu-kin, after whom the building was named. It was opened by Sir William Peel, Governor of Hong Kong, in 1931 and since then further donations have been received for the endowment of teaching Chinese language and literature. The building has been used for other purposes since the 1970s but the name remained unchanged. At present, it houses the Centre of Asian Studies. This three-storey flat-roofed structure is surfaced with Shanghai plaster and became a declared monument in 1995.

Centennial campus[edit]

To provide additional space for students under the new four-year undergraduate curriculum the Centennial Campus was built at the western end of the main campus, which was previously occupied by the Water Supplies Department.[37] The construction of the campus started in late 2009, and was completed in 2012, the first year of the introduction of the new academic structure in Hong Kong. In 2012, the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Social Science moved to the Centennial Campus.



Admission to HKU is highly competitive. In 2012, the University has received over 70,946 applications for undergraduate studies, 23,852 of which were from outside the Hong Kong schools' system.[38] For international applicants, the enrolment rate was about 1 student for every 12 applications, compared with 1 out of every 10 applicants for local non-JUPAS admissions.[38][39] According to a survey done by the (The Hong Kong Education Net), HKU enrolled students with the best performance in HKDSEE in 2012.[40] Internationally, applicants with 5 A*s in GCE ALE, 75/75 in the Taiwan GSAT, 45/45 in IB, and 16 "Zhuang Yuan (狀元)" (the top public exam scoring students in their province or provincial city in mainland China) also joined HKU.[41]

Undergraduate students to be admitted according to their strength in the local public examination (HKDSEE) apply online through the JUPAS, while the others, including transference students or those taking other examinations, are classified as non-JUPAS applicants who are required to apply via the official website,[42] where postgraduate students' applications are proceeded also.[42]

Teaching and learning[edit]

Most undergraduate courses are 4-year degrees while the medical and nursing programmes require two and one more year(s) of studies respectively. English is the main medium of instruction, and the University's Senate has endorsed English as the campus lingua franca. Starting from 2012, local students are required to take both English and Chinese language courses; however, students who are native-speakers of languages other than Chinese, and students who have not studied Chinese language in their secondary curriculum can take an elective course instead.[43]


The university is a founding member of Universitas 21, an international consortium of research-led universities. HKU benefits from a large operating budget supplied by high levels of government funding compared to many Western countries. In 2012/13, the Research Grants Council (RGC) granted the University of Hong Kong a total research funding of HK$1,088 million, which is the highest among all universities in Hong Kong.[44] HKU professors were among the highest paid in the world as well, having salaries far exceeding those of their US counterparts in private universities. However, with the reduction of salaries in recent years, this is no longer the case.[citation needed]

HKU research output, researchers, projects, patents and theses are profiled and made publicly available in the HKU Scholars Hub.[45] 100 members of academic staff (>10% of professoriate staff) from HKU are ranked among the world's top 1% of scientists by the Thomson Reuters' Essential Science Indicators, by means of the citations recorded on their publications.[46] The university has the largest number of research postgraduate students in Hong Kong, making up approximately 10% of the total student population. All ten faculties and departments provide teaching and supervision for research (MPhil and PhD) students with administration undertaken by the Graduate School.

Libraries and museums[edit]

The University Museum and Art Gallery from Bonham Road.

HKU Libraries (HKUL) was established in 1912, being the oldest academic library in Hong Kong with over 2.3 million current holdings. It comprises the Main Library and six specialist branch libraries: the Dental, Education, Fung Ping Shan (East Asian Language), Yu Chun Keung Medical, Lui Che Woo Law, and Music libraries. They are located in buildings around the campus with varying opening hours. A web-based library catalogue, DRAGON, allows one to search HKUL's books, journals and other resources.

The HKUL Digital Initiatives, through its digitisation projects, has opened up online access to local collections originally in print format. The first HKUL Digital Initiative, ExamBase, was launched in 1996 and other projects of scholarly interests were introduced. More digital projects are being developed to provide continuous access to digital content and services. It provides open access to Chinese and English academic and medical periodicals published in Hong Kong.

The three-storey Fung Ping Shan Building was erected in 1932 originally as a library for Chinese books. Named after its donor, the building consists of masonry on the ground level surmounted by a two-storey red-brick structure with ornamental columns topped by a pediment over its entrance. Since 1962, the Chinese books collection, now known as the Fung Ping Shan Library, was transferred to the university's Main Library and the whole building was converted into a museum for Chinese art and archaeology. Among its collections are ceramics, pottery and bronze sculptures. In 1996, the lowest three floors of the new Tsui Building were added to the old building to form the University Museum and Art Gallery.

Reputation and rankings[edit]

University rankings
ARWU[47] 151–200
Times[48] 44
QS[49] 30
ARWU[47] 16–26
Times[48] 4
QS (Global version)[50]
QS (Asia version)[51]

HKU is placed among the territory's top 3 institutions by various league tables. It is among 51st–60th in THE's World Reputation Rankings (2015),[52] the most reputable in the territory as in HKU Public Opinion Programme survey (2012).[53] Its strength in individual disciplines ranked by the above organisations can be seen via the list of subject rankings of Hong Kong tertiary institutions. The University is also ranked 42nd in the world by US News & Report.[54] China's Alumni Association placed it among the "6-Star Greater China's Universities" (the highest level)[55] and it also topped the Association's 2014 Ranking of Institutions with the Most Best Disciplines in HK, Macau and Taiwan.[56]

HKU's MBA program was considered one of the best in Asia by the Economist's 2014 ranking where it was 27th globally,[57] while the Global MBA Rankings (2014) ranked it 29th.[58] HKU's HKU-Fudan IMBA programme came 49th in the Financial Times EMBA Rankings (2014).[59]

Student life[edit]

Student welfare is served by several units, including the Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS), which provides guidance for most areas of student life including career counselling, and the University Health Service, which provides health care, referrals and preventive services.


According to the latest profile indicators,[60] the student population of the university was 21,652 in 2008–2009, comprising 11,962 undergraduates, 7,326 taught postgraduates and 2,364 research postgraduates. In recent years, it has become a popular choice for international students, with 6,814 non-local students on campus (including exchange students) from 83 countries in 2012.

Halls and colleges[edit]

The largest residential hall in HKU, Starr Hall.

There are 20 residential halls and colleges for undergraduates, postgraduates and visitors.

The residential halls include:

  • Main Campus – Swire Hall and Simon K. Y. Lee Hall, mainly for undergraduates. Graduate House and Robert Black College, primarily for postgraduates and visitors respectively.
  • Sasson Road Campus – Lee Hysan Hall, R.C. Lee Hall, Wei Lun Hall and Madam S. H. Ho Hall Residence for Medical Students.
  • Jockey Club Student Village I (founded in 2001) – Lady Ho Tung Hall, Starr Hall and Ricci Hall.
  • Jockey Club Student Village II (founded in 2005) – Morrison Hall, Lee Shau Kee Hall and Suen Chi Sun Hall.
  • Jockey Club Student Village III (founded in 2012) – made up of four residential colleges, Shun Hing College, Chi Sun College, Lap-Chee College and New College. They provide a total of 1,800 beds for students of whom 67% are non-local students.
  • Other historical student residences include St. John's College, Ricci Hall and University Hall.

Moreover, there are three non-residential halls:

  • Hornell Hall (male only)
  • Duchess of Kent Hall (female only)
  • Lee Chi Hung Hall (co-educational)

Student organisations[edit]

The Students' Union

There are two officially recognised student bodies, The Hong Kong University Students' Union (HKUSU) and Postgraduate Students Association, giving opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities.

HKUSU principally serves the undergraduate students. It offers more than 100 clubs and associations catering to the student population. This organisation is renowned amongst student activists, having been the main driving force behind evicting a chancellor in recent years. There was controversy when the head of the Students' Union, Ayo Chan, said that some of the protesters involved in the Tiananmen Square massacre had acted irrationally.[61] Many students thought his remarks were offensive and he was ousted by a vote in under one week. The Postgraduate Students Association (PGSA) represents the university's postgraduate students.

Study abroad programme[edit]

Through the Exchange Buddy Program, students from abroad can choose to be matched with a local student whom they can correspond with prior to their departure for Hong Kong. These local students greet the visiting students upon arrival at the airport, assist with settling into student residence and offer advice and support during their stay.[62]

More than 3,000 students have participated in the exchange programmes through universities spanning 18 countries around the world with the support of the University Grants Committee, University of Hong Kong Foundation for Educational Development and Research, Hongkong Bank Foundation, UBC Alumni Association (Hong Kong), Dr. Lee Shiu Scholarships for Hong Kong and South-East Asia Academic Exchange, Shell (Hong Kong) Limited, C. V. Starr Scholarship Fund, and other donations.[63]

Organisation and administration[edit]

Structure of governance[edit]

HKU SPACE Admiralty Learning Centre

The chief executive of Hong Kong has the power to appoint both the chairman of the university council and six additional members of the 24-person council; the vice-chancellor is in turn appointed by the council.[64] The University has 10 faculties, namely Faculties of Architecture, Arts, Business & Economics, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Law, Science, Social Sciences, and Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, alongside a graduate school and a number of non-faculty academic units, which provide various study programmes and courses for students.[65] The medium of instruction in most classes is English.[66]

There are two associate institutions. HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE) was established in 1956 as the Department of Extramural Studies and changed its name in 1992.[67] There are three main streams of programmes provided, and they are Higher Diploma Programmes (2-year and 3-year full-time), Pre-Associate Degree (1-year full-time) and associate degree (2-year full-time). The other one is Centennial College, a liberal arts college established in 2012.[68] It has provided self-financed 4-year bachelor's degree programmes for HKALE, HKDSE and other graduates from September 2012.

Shield, motto and coat of arms[edit]

HKU's shield of arms, granted in 1913
HKU's full coat of arms, granted in 1984

The design of the university's shield of arms was proposed to the College of Arms by the university in October 1912.[69] On 14 May 1913, the shield, along with two mottoes (one in Latin, one in Chinese) was granted by the College of Arms.[69] The field resembles the lions on the coat of arms of England, whereas the book on the shield is a common reference to university's role in learning and knowledge.

The Latin motto Sapientia et Virtus is translated into English as "Wisdom and Virtue". The Chinese motto on the pages of the opened book, written from top to bottom, right to left in accordance with traditional Chinese writing direction, contains two phrases: 明德 (ming tak) and 格物 (kak mat), meaning "illustrious virtue" and "the investigation of things" respectively. The first phrase ming tak makes homage to the opening sentence of classic Confucian Classical Chinese literature the Great Learning, in which the author discusses the three great duties of a ruler: illustrious virtue, the renewal of the people, and repose in the highest good.[69] The second phrase kak mat is a reference to the writing of Confucian scholar Zhu Xi 致知在格物 (lit. exhausting by examination the principles of things and affairs). The phrase occurs in discussion regarding how wise rulers set about cultivating wisdom and virtue. If one desires to rectify their heart, they must first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they must first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.[69]

In 1981, the year of the university's 70th anniversary, an application was made to the College of Arms for a full coat of arms, which was granted in 1984, comprising the original shield and mottoes with the addition of a crest, supporters, a helmet and compartment. The supporters of the coat of arms are a Chinese dragon and a lion representing Britain, indicating the university's aspiration to blend East and West cultures, from the foundation by British people in Hong Kong and the later development of the university's research and studies in both west and east culture and technology, whereas the compartment is an allusion to Hong Kong Island, where the university is located.

University anthem[edit]

The recording of the reconstructed University Anthem was recorded by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the Diocesan Choral Society and HKU Students' Union Choir, conducted by the Sinfonietta's musical director, Yip Wing-sie, with new orchestration by Dr Chan Hing-yan, Chairperson of the Department of Music.[70][71]

Lyrics in Latin English Translation
Finis hic operum! Domus

Stat potens Academia,

Unde ab occiduis recens

Ampliore flust plagis

Mox doctrina meatu.

Here end our labours!

Strong stand the buildings of the University,

whence modern learning soon will flow

from western land in more ample course.

Fons ubi est sapientia?

Et, Scientia, qua lates?

Pontus has negat in suis

Subditas latebris, negat

Has se Terra tenere.

Where is the fountain of wisdom?

And how, O science, art thou hidden?

The Sea denies that these are concealed

in his hiding-place

and the Earth denies that she contains them.

En! Dei reverentia

Hac scientia! Qui malis

Abstinet, sapit. Hoc diu

Munere assidue valentem

Exercete iuventam!

Lo! The fear of God–that is science!

Whoso abstains from evil, he is wise.
Long and earnestly may ye train
youth's vigour in this duty!

Pandite ostia! Iam Deo

Gratias agimus. Dei

Semper auxilio novum

Splendeat sapientia

Lumen ex Oriente! AMEN

Fling open the gates!

Now we give thanks to God.

By God's grace may the new light of wisdom

ever shine out from the East! AMEN

Noted people[edit]

The University of Hong Kong has educated many notable people. Among them is Dr Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China, who was a graduate of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, the predecessor of HKU. Over 40 principal officials, permanent secretaries, Executive Council and Legislative Council members of the Hong Kong SAR Government are HKU graduates. HKU graduates also form the senior management teams of many large organisations in the private sector.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c "QuickStats". Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "HKU Quick Stats – Space". 
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External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Wong & Ouyang (HK) Ltd., "More than half-a-century of architectural design experience in Hong Kong", section "Master Planning of the main campus and the centennial campus of the University of Hong Kong", pp. 44–48, September 2009