Cry CU 有關中大國際化討論

星期六, 2月 19, 2005

Students oppose 'westernisation'

Linda Yeung2005-02-19

Chinese University union protests over plans to increase the number of courses taught in English

Chinese University students are up in arms over plans they claim will "westernise" their campus.

They are rejecting moves to increase the number of courses taught in English and pledging to defend the "spirit of the university, bilingualism and Chinese culture".
The dispute arose after CUHK requested all departments recruiting non-local students in the new academic year to offer more core courses and electives in English. Up to 80 per cent of the departments have already said they will.

In a letter to staff, students and alumni this week, following earlier student opposition to the plan, Professor Lau pledged to uphold the university's tradition of bilingualism and said departments opting to continue teaching solely in Chinese would not suffer in any way.
The increase in English courses had been necessary to achieve "internationalisation".

"Even universities in the mainland are enhancing their English teaching to step up international links," he said. "This is an inevitable trend. Obviously it will be difficult to attract top faculty and students or get international recognition if you lack the medium for international exchange."
But the letter failed to pacify the students, who stepped up their protests this week with posters and pamphlets warning the move could lead to an English "bias" and calling for negotiations over the plan.

"Professor Lau has not explained to us how the university is going to protect mother tongue teaching. The issue involves the spirit of the university, our emphasis on bilingualism and Chinese culture. There is a lot of room for discussion over the issue," said CUHK Student Union president Lee Nim-yan, a second-year student in government and public administration.
Warning against "complete westernisation", he added: "Knowledge is best transmitted through the mother tongue, especially in humanities subjects."

The union is pressing for the release of a policy paper so staff and students can discuss the issues involved. Its social officer Wu Ho-tong, a third-year economics student, said students had learned about the proposed policy shift unofficially late last month even though the university had begun consultations with departments as long ago as October.

Professor Lau said in his letter that departments were free to decide whether to increase their English teaching provision and pledged the university would promote home culture wholeheartedly, with plans to launch interdisciplinary courses in Chinese studies.

The departments of philosophy, cultural and religious studies and Chinese medicine have said they will not make the move to English.

Chan Kin-man, an associate professor in the sociology department, said he expected about 60 per cent of courses offered by medium size departments to be taught in English as a result of the new rule.

"It is impossible for them to provide both language options for core courses and electives with their limited resources," he said.

"Teachers need to consider the impact on effective learning with a new medium of instruction."
His department has yet to decide whether to increase its English teaching provision, but he said he supported the students' call for a clear policy paper on the issue.

CUHK is the only Hong Kong university with a bilingual policy, although most of its courses are taught in Chinese.

The university is aiming for 25 per cent of its student population to come from outside Hong Kong in about a decade and is joining the National Colleges and Universities Enrolment System in the mainland this year, making it accessible to the more than four million candidates in 13 provinces and four cities.



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