serving as President of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU)
for 30 years, Dr Tse Chi Wai was to retire in July 2001. At
the moment, the cordial invitation of Mr Ho Hau Wah, the Chief
Executive of Macao SAR, came upon him and postponed his retirement
plan. He returned to his long parted hometown of Macao. On 1
October 2001, Dr Tse became the Chairman of the University Council
of UM (UC).
The appointment, more than just a job to extend Dr Tse's career,
is an important task to him. Recalling Mr Ho's words, Dr Tse
remarked: "The Chief Executive hopes UM will become an
independent institution of higher learning without the intervention
of the government." He pointed out frankly that the attainment
of this objective requires the amendment of the University Charter,
so as to make UM more independent and open, fit in with the
development of the 21st Century and satisfy the social demands
of qualified graduates. The function of the UC should be shifted
from an advisory body to a governing one. Serving as the bridge
between UM and Macao government, the UC will participate in
formulating UM policies.
Though confronted with new challenges, Dr
Tse is full of confidence. "UM, as a local university, not only reflects the characteristics
of Macao but also enjoys a high status." In addition, with the
support and commitment of the government, UM has already laid a good
foundation for further development. In spite of these advantages,
there still exist some difficulties. Recalling the past, Dr Tse stated,
"The University of East Asia (UEA) was acquired by then Macao
government in 1988, and renamed the University of Macao in 1991.
After that, UM became a publicly-funded institution. During the transition
period, when top-level government officials left one by one, UM accepted
the solemn mission to provide talents to fill the vacancies in a
very short time."
To Dr Tse, this process provided an opportunity
for UM to lay a solid basis. On the other hand, it has produced
some mechanisms hindering UM from further development. This provided
an opportunity for UM to build a closer tie with the government.
UM's strength in training public administrators has also been recognized. "But in the long
run, a close relationship with the government will undoubtedly impose
restrictions on UM's development. If the notion employed in government
administration is applied to the management of a university, it will
consequently prevent UM from functioning properly to broaden the horizon
of the whole society." With the return of Macao to China, Macao
SAR government realized the necessity to make some changes. On 28
September 2001, when Mr Ho Hau Wah attended the UC meeting as the
Chairman for the last time, he declared the appointment of Dr Tse
as the new Chairman of the UC and stressed the wish of the government
to give more freedom to UM.
Under the leadership of Dr Tse, the new UC will negotiate with the
government and strive for greater opening and independence.
Regarding negotiations with the government, Dr Tse believes that the
most important thing is that each government unit should share the
same will of the Chief Executive and agree on the significance of
UM's independence. If so, the coordination by UC with the government
will proceed smoothly, and UM can give full play to the functions
of a publicly-funded university.
The content of negotiation will be discussed and decided within UM
and UC. "UM's history is short and any burden should be light,
favorable to implement new measures." But Dr Tse admitted there
exists the phenomenon that staff at UM are of mixed qualifications.
Moreover, historical factors have influenced the degree of the staff's
sense of belonging to UM.
As for the programmes offered, Dr Tse remarked that UM has not gained
the full status of a comprehensive university. There is still much
room left for adjustment, involving the participation of each member
from UM. Everyone should give it more thought and express own opinions
on how to run our UM well, so as to reach a consensus by means of
discussion and negotiation. It is in no sense a model led by only
one person. Dynamic development is healthy.
The resources of UM, now supplied only by the government, are far
from enough to cope with future development. Dr Tse pointed out that
the only way out is to establish a social relations network and raise
funds from the whole society. "Learning from the experience
of American counterparts in building scientific research centres
will serve the society while alleviating the economic burden of UM."
Dr Tse is confident that UM is capable of developing featured programmes. "Macao, compared with other parts of Asia, is more closely related
to Europe, which will greatly help forge the Macao—Europe relationship." UM
can demonstrate its strengths by offering or strengthening such courses
as Portuguese language and culture. Macao is well-known for its history
of gambling. UM can offer relevant courses and make contributions
to the academic research."
In addition to conceiving featured courses, we should establish and
consolidate such basic courses as physics, chemistry, mathematics
and biology, currently not offered by other universities in Macao.
By doing so, UM will have more potential for further development. "There are many high school graduates who are interested in these
majors. But they have to leave Macao for a college education. The
major cause is that there are no such specialties in the universities
here. Moreover, the establishment of these basic courses will provide
chances for the local high school teachers to accept in-service training,
which will indirectly improve elementary education in Macao. Therefore,
it has a high social value".
While referring to the ideas about development, Dr Tse spoke with
fervor and assurance. Though optimistic, he never forgot to point
out the deficiencies of UM. The current resources of UM are not sufficient
for it to be built into a comprehensive, research-oriented institution
of higher learning. It is also impossible for UM to initiate programmes
involving great consumption of resources. For instance, the establishment
of a medical school is one of the hot issues under discussion recently
in Macao. But owing to insufficient resources and the small size of
the city, chances are slim that medical school will be added to UM
at present. Nevertheless, limited resources will not stop UM from
setting up some preeminent, research-oriented programmes, like the
research of traditional Chinese medicine.
"To develop a university, the motive force at the core invariably
consists in human factors." Dr Tse remarked that it is good
practice for UM to recruit highly qualified teachers from around
the world now. But it still remains a tough challenge to create a
good environment beyond academic research to retain these talents
and help them fulfill their full potential and achieve academic excellence.
Dr Tse believed that students with best quality and strong ability
are the guarantee for local prestige of the University. Most of the
students of UEA, the predecessor of UM, came from Hong Kong, so Macao
people developed an exotic feeling towards UEA. "The situation
has changed now. Today, the reputation of UM can be built on the basis
of the outstanding students and graduates from Macao".
"Students from China and other countries are the fine constituent
parts of UM. They have offered good opportunities for Macao students
to interact with people of different backgrounds, to broaden their
horizon, and to cultivate in themselves the ability to cope with the
complicated society of modern times." Dr Tse acknowledged that
during the 30 years in HKBU, he realized students are one of the
assets a university must treasure the most.
There is no question that Dr Tse will appropriately apply his Hong
Kong experience to UM.