Students have the right to choose where to study abroad

Students have the right to choose where to study abroad

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Professor Ian Holliday may need a holiday after the controversy he stirred up.
Professor Ian Holliday may need a holiday after the controversy he stirred up.
Photo: David Wong/SCMP

Regarding the heated debate about the “One International, One Mainland” Plan, Professor Ian Holliday, Vice-President and Pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), made an official apology for his controversial statement, where he said that students should not come to HKU if they didn’t want to go the mainland. Along with his apology, he wrote that the Academic Development Proposal (ADP) “does not state that these learning experiences are mandatory”.

Taking back the remark that raised eyebrows and sparked discussions on social media is a wise decision by Holliday. As an HKU student currently on exchange, I can see the positive changes in myself during my experience abroad, and am open to more opportunities than before. Living away from home helped me to discover how ignorant and deeply prejudiced I am, and that there is so much to learn that can’t be learned from books and lectures, but only by delving into the real world. My initial reaction to the programme was, like a lot of students, sceptical about the programme being made compulsory without consulting students, and I was also concerned about the focus on the mainland.

If the developmental opportunities may be, as HKU vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson has pointed out during an interview with the South China Morning Post published on April 20th, “anywhere in the world” and that the mainland world be “one target area”, why does the title of the programme put emphasis on the mainland, particularly given the recent political climate? It is logical to question the politics behind the motive of the programme considering that the proposal comes shortly after Occupy Central, when political tensions between Hong Kong and the mainland are quite high.

I believe that working or studying on the mainland, or in any part of the world, would be beneficial to personal growth. But the fact remains that we should have the choice to decide what study programmes to partake in, and the good news is that we do. 

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Students'right to choose

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