Shame not pride in such a uni war

Editorial | Mary Ma 9 Aug 2017

I never thought I would see the day when the SARs two most prestigious universities could stoop so low.

Instead of sticking to being places of higher learning to develop knowledge, both the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University have resorted to exploiting elite students for commercial marketing purposes.

Meanwhile, this years top scorers in the Diploma of Secondary Education examinations are being exploited as unwitting pawns in the institutions lust to promote their respective schools of medicine.

Their scramble for fame is downright shameful.

Perhaps driven to shed its image of always playing second fiddle to HKU, CUHK fired the first salvo by posting a video online of the young woman dubbed the super scholar by the media, after she scored 5** in eight subjects.

On the same day the Joint University Programmes Admissions System results were announced, an interview with the bright young lady on CUHKs vast campus was shown, with her singing the praises of the universitys warmth and humanity, saying it will provide her with the perfect environment to study medicine.

Not to be outdone, HKU seemed to hastily arrange a press conference several hours later, trotting out their new enrollees from among the five students who had achieved 5** in seven subjects in the DSE exam in front of the media spotlight. Four of them plan to pursue medicine at HKU, while the fifth will study dentistry.

The whole exercise is both troubling and puzzling since, while the drop in student population should be alarming for the less prestigious universities, this should never be an issue for either HKU or CUHK, the leading institutes of higher learning in the SAR.

But theyve both sunk so low with their media stunts this time that theyve lost the grace most of us expect of our highest- ranked universities.

Competition is fine as long as its being done gracefully. Cambridge and Oxford in Britain have been competitors for centuries, and their annual boat race is the epitome of a healthy rivalry.

Shouldnt HKU and CUHK compete on a basis more meaningful than counting how many 5** students they have?

In this latest shameless caper, the first lesson both universities had in store for their students was neither medicinal or dental, but commercial marketing using them as celebrity pawns to endorse their respective brands.

I wonder if theyre even aware of how negatively the public views their cheap tricks. If they hadnt thought about it, both should be told the gimmicks really put them in a bad light.

While slick drama best suits commercial business, it should never be associated with organizations that are supposed to be scholarly, serious and truthful the virtues that knowledge is all about.

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