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    Professor Simon Ho, Vice Rector (Academic Affairs) of the University of Macau: “We want our students to become citizens of the world”

    24/06/2013Macau Daily Times

    MDT - The current school year is coming to an end. What types of international co-operations or exchange programs have the University of Macau offered throughout this year? Simon Ho (SH) – We have more than 180 agreements with foreign universities. We cover a wide range of countries in Europe, North America, South-East Asia and Australia. I believe our geographical coverage is quite extensive and we are expanding the network, as every year we are able to extend to 20 new partner universities. MDT – How crucial are these international programs to UM? SH  - They are very important to our university. We don’t intend to send students abroad just to attend classes and taste the local food. They should appreciate the cultural differences, learn more about the country and also let local people know more about the oriental cultural and Macau. We want them to learn what is happening around the world. Staying here and just reading newspapers might not be enough; students need to be aware of global issues and help solve world problems. We want them to become citizens of the world. Moreover, we want UM to achieve an international level of quality. I believe that if faculty members and students go abroad, they will see what we mean by ‘world class’. If you always stay inside Macau, you’ll never know. But if you go to the best universities in the world, you will learn from your experiences and help to improve our standards. MDT – Which current partner universities or international programs would you highlight? SH  - We have agreements with many top universities like Cambridge [in the United Kingdom]. With them, we have a fellowship program and they receive our scholars. In the United States of America, we also have partnerships with well-known universities like UC Berkeley, Temple and University of Nevada. In Portugal, we have agreements with several universities such as Coimbra and Lisbon. MDT – How many UM students went abroad as a part of these programs and how many foreign students came to Macau? SH  - This year we had around 250 students participating in exchange programs. The number of incoming students is more or less the same. Every year we send almost 600 students abroad in total, including the additional programs also provided during the summer period, like the summer schools. MDT – The Chief Executive, Chui Sai On, said recently that with the new campus in the Hengqin Island, the number of students is due to increase. Do you share this belief? SH  - Yes, the number is due to generally increase, because the new campus is 20 times larger. So, I believe we will be able to accept more students, without lowering the quality of service. Every year we have around 5,000 applications from mainland students and we are only able to accept 250. In the new campus, we will increase the percentage of international students from 20 to 25 percent within three years. But our aim is to diversify our student body, attracting applicants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South-East Asia, Europe and America, as we already have a good number of mainland students. As we are a public university, we cannot jeopardize the places for local students, so that percentage will always be higher, particularly in undergraduate programs. MDT – Are there any new exchange programs to be launched next year? SH  - Yes, actually we have just signed a few new agreements for the next school year: with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, with Waseda University and Kansai University, both based in Japan, and with the University of Montreal in Canada. We are also negotiating agreements with universities in Europe and in the USA. MDT – What are the main goals of UM for the next school year? SH - We are preparing to move to the new campus. We are updating our curricula and increasing the number of subjects, trying at the same time to tailor more programs that address the needs of the people of Macau. We want to make sure that everything we are doing here is to serve the local population, but also enhances the relationship between Macau, Guangdong and China. We will try to improve our quality, enhancing our research competence and management system, as we aim to become more visible in the academic world, positioning ourselves equally with international standards. Macau is an international city and UM plays a role in bringing the best academics here. We want to make sure Macau is on the world map.  Staff reporter  Copyright@MACAU DAILY TIMESA
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