Hong Kong universities: navigating in unknown waters

In recent decades, universities in Hong Kong have been getting noticed worldwide, acclaimed as dynamic poles of global and regional scholarly dynamics. This is due to several reasons. Their location in a territory of crossroads where European, North American, and Australian economic, social, and cultural dimensions interact with East Asian, particularly Chinese, counterparts. They are strongly internationalized in their activities, academic staff and students, and common use of English language. The territory is a regional center of knowledge networks. The universities are institutionally diverse, sharing some commonalities, but with different strategies and focuses. Their academics are extremely adaptable, working in the ultimate capitalist neoliberal society, in stress-driven performativity workplaces, where evaluation frameworks prevail.

Since mid-2019, Hong Kong society was shaken by a social movement that divided the society of Hong Kong into two sides. The social movement results from a mix of political, economic, cultural, and social tensions that have been gradually building across the years. As intense clashes between protesters and police occurred on university campuses, people have an impression that university students played an active role in the protests. In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the territory, later the world, affecting universities as well. How did these changes influence the stability, characteristics, enrollment, and development of universities in Hong Kong? These issues will be discussed in the webinar from the perspectives of two higher education researchers (one local and one non-local) working in two different universities in Hong Kong.