The University of Macau (UM) was founded in 1981. Its predecessor was the private University of East Asia. Through thirty years of development, UM has become a leading university and also the only public comprehensive university in Macao. Ever since its founding, UM has nurtured over ten thousand outstanding graduates for society.
UM now offers over 130 bachelor, master’s, PhD and other programmes, conducted mainly in English, with some in Chinese, Portuguese or Japanese, through its Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Business Administration, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, and Honours College, to more than 8,600 students.
In recent years UM is committed to reforming its undergraduate curriculum, in order to educate outstanding graduates through a multi-pronged approach. Concrete measures towards this end include: implementing a new “4-in-1” pedagogical model that consists of discipline-specific education, general education, research and internship education, and community and peer education, to meet students’ varying needs at different stages; following the example of world-class universities and introducing a residential college system to implement whole-person education; establishing Macao’s first Honours College so that resources can be concentrated to produce future leaders for society; introducing new general education courses to help students become well-rounded graduates with a cross-disciplinary perspective and international competitiveness; implementing a research and internship programme to create opportunities for undergraduates to participate in high-level scientific research projects; and enhancing career counselling to give students a head start in career planning.
UM adopts governance and management systems in line with international standards and practices, and internationally recruits outstanding teaching staff to try to create a multi-lingual learning environment for students. At present UM has a faculty team of over four hundred seventy members, most of whom holding PhD degrees, many granted by prestigious universities. In recent years UM has stepped up efforts to recruit senior-position teaching staff, and so far it has obtained nine full-time chair professors and two visiting chair professors, greatly enhancing the academic and research strengths of its faculty team. UM also implements a sabbatical leave and reward system to reward academic staff with outstanding performance.
UM has always vigorously supported scientific research development. In recent years it has developed a blueprint for transforming into a research-focused university, which, combined with a clear, shared goal among academic staff to attain first-class achievements, has led to very good academic results. Compared to the year 2008, the number of SCI research papers by UM academics in 2011 grew 90 percent, and citation frequency of published papers grew 85 percent. In certain areas, such as microelectronics, Chinese medicine, and Internet of Things, UM already ranks among the top in the Greater China region in terms of papers published at major international conferences and in prestigious journals. With the support of the Macao SAR government and the Science and Technology Development Fund of Macao SAR, UM in November 2010 obtained approval from the People’s Republic of China for establishing two state key laboratories, namely the State Key Laboratory of Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI and the State Key Laboratory for Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, in recognition of the university’s outstanding achievements in the fields of integrated circuits and Chinese medicine. When the new campus is put into use, the open research base there will become the new home of the two state key laboratories. The inauguration of the research base should be able to enhance research collaboration between UM and other universities from Macao, the Pearl River Delta region and even the whole country, as well as to create opportunities for Guangdong-Macao collaboration and moderate diversification of Macao’s economy.
More and more of UM’s academic staff have gained national or even international recognition. Vice Rector Rui Martins was elected corresponding member of the Portuguese Academy of Sciences. Prof. Iu Vai Pan was elected fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Prof. Philip Chen was elected president of the Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Prof. Fan Xitao was selected fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Prof. Ben U received the Prize for Scientific and Technological Innovation 2010 from the Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation. The microelectronics team won the second-class State Scientific and Technological Progress Award. UM constantly seeks to explore new research realms to meet the needs of Macao and China. Some academic staff are actively engaged in some major national research projects. For instance, Rector Wei Zhao, who is a world-renowned expert in computer and information sciences, was appointed as the chief scientist for a project under the national “973 Programme”. Additionally, UM launched Macaology, and is determined to develop it into an important, internationally recognized academic field that can hopefully aid the understanding of the culture and society of Macao.
UM has a tradition of conferring honorary professorships and doctorates upon distinguished individuals, such as former U.S. President George W. Bush, esteemed mathematician and recipient of the world’s most prestigious prize in mathematics “Fields Medal” Prof. Shing-Tung Yau, Nobel Prize laureate in economics Prof. James A. Mirrlees, master of sinology Prof. Jao Tsung-I, renowned biologist Prof. Francisco J. Ayala, etc., which has enhanced UM’s reputation as well as its ties with local and international communities.
To better support higher education development in Macao and to answer society’s need for high-quality professionals, UM is building a new campus on Hengqin Island, Guangdong, which will cover about one square kilometer, twenty times larger than the current campus. Once the new campus is built by 2013, it will come under the jurisdiction of Macao SAR. After moving to the new campus, which will be able to accommodate approximately ten thousand students, UM will fully implement a system of residential colleges modelled upon top universities like Oxford, Cambridge and Yale. According to the preliminary plan, there will be between eight and twelve residential colleges to complement the various faculties. Undergraduates of different majors and years of study will live in the same colleges. They will live and study together and will have ample opportunities to participate in various competitions and recreational activities organized by the colleges. It is hoped that through peer interaction and motivation enabled by such an arrangement, students can better acquire self-discipline, develop the ability to act independently, and realize whole-person growth.
UM is faced with unprecedented opportunities and challenges, and its brave exploration of new dimensions will also have important implications for higher education system development in Macao’s neighboring regions. UM will seize the historic opportunity and nurture outstanding graduates with professional skills, extensive knowledge and high integrity for society through quality whole-person education for undergraduates. UM will also seek progress in a steady manner and work hard to become a first-class university with regional characteristics.