The History of GE at CUHK

General Education in The Chinese University of Hong Kong: Mission and Implementation -- Leung Mei Yee

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Language-alignment policy for the General Education Foundation Programme

To adhere to the University’s bilingual policy and strengthen students’ language competence in Chinese and English, in both speech and writing, the language of written assignments for the General Education Foundation (GE Foundation) courses is to align with the language of instruction.

Changes in the GE requirements

As for the Four Areas, the credit requirement is reduced from 9 to 7 units to allow more flexibility for students to take other newly introduced courses in the University Core. Students are to select courses from three out of the four areas. As the University is committed to the promotion of Chinese culture, students should take at least one course from Area A, and at least one course in each of the two areas complementary to their major discipline.

General Education Foundation Programme

In 2012, undergraduate education changed to 4-year curriculum. With a view to providing students with a common-learning experience and a platform for interaction, CUHK introduced a brand new General Education Foundation Programme to all first year students at CUHK. Students are to read a series of classics. With the guidance of teachers, students are to discuss critical issues with their peers in class. The Programme consists of two parts: one course takes students on an expedition to the world of science and knowledge of nature, and the other, on a quest for the ideal life and society:

  • UGFH 1000 In Dialogue with Humanity
  • UGFN 1000 In Dialogue with Nature
Programme review and the "Four Areas"

2004 Programme review and the “Four Areas”

  • Scope of the review:
    • Clarified goals and needs of the GE in CUHK
    • Restructured the curriculum. All GE courses were categorized under Four Areas
    • Introduced effective management and Quality Assurance Mechanism. Courses would be assessed by internal committees and external specialists

1991-2003 Flexible Credit Unit System and GE Programme Revamp

  • In 1991, a flexible credit unit system, permitting students to complete the required number of units and graduate in three years, was introduced. Required GE units were reduced to 15.
  • Only Chinese Culture remained compulsory. This increased students’ room for course selection.
  • The one-line budget was introduced in 1995. Funding of departments was correlated to the number of students taught. The number of GE courses proliferated.
University GE Programme with "Seven Areas"

1986-1991 University GE Programme with “Seven Areas”

  • GE entered a new phase in 1986
    • Compared with previous stages, the revamped GE was significantly increased to 15% (18 units) of an undergraduates course load
    • The new curriculum still had provision for colleges to design GE courses for their students for a maximum of 6 units
    • The rest of the GE was a university-wide programme, provided by the academic departments and coordinated by the Director of General Education
  • GE programme was divided into seven areas at this stage.

1984 Review of the Undergraduate curriculum

  • The GE programme was strengthened and its curriculum was restructured. The goals of GE were clearly defined and the standards of courses were raised.
  • A Director of General Education was appointed to implement a university-wide GE programme.
College GE under a Unitary University Administration

1976-1986 College GE under a Unitary University Administration

  • College departments were integrated into departments under the governance of the central administration, responsible for “subject-orientated” teaching; the Colleges were responsible for “student-orientated” teaching, with GE continued to be entrusted to the Colleges
  • With the shift of teaching resources management to departments, the Colleges encountered increasing difficulties to organize and coordinate GE courses
Colleges, Cultural Ideals and GE

1963 – 1976 Colleges, Cultural Ideals and GE

  • Each college designed its GE programme in accordance with its traditional ideals and curriculum.

1963 CUHK was established

  • Inheriting the educational goals of the constituent colleges, the University decided on its missions of the balanced development of liberal arts and specialized education; as well as equal emphasis on training professional expertise and nurturing leadership qualities.
  • Since the establishment of the University, the GE programme has been included in the curriculum as a compulsory requirement for all undergraduates.