I met Chinese University of Hong Kong council member Hamen Fan Shi-hoo at the Shanghai Fraternity Association on the eve of the release of results for the Hong Kong Diploma of Education examination.
We talked about how to attract students to enroll in engineering as the total number of students falls, with many traditional university faculties having to compete for applicants.
An industrialist, Fan is also a vice president of the Shanghai Fraternity Association and he cares about education. He is a long-time member of the Sha Tin institution's Shaw College and became a member of the university council too in recent years.
The university's faculty of engineering, set up more than two decades ago, used to attract a high number of applicants. But just like many other traditional subjects, admission applications have dropped in recent years. Now, Fan said, students who have earned 22 points in the DSE exam should have no problem getting into engineering.
To encourage students to apply, he has sponsored a few scholarships for students to go to Ivy League institutions as exchange students. He also visited famous secondary schools recently to work with STEM teachers to promote the faculty.
A graduate at the gathering said reading engineering is, in fact, a good deal as students do not only get a degree upon graduation but also professional qualification.
Also, engineering graduates don't find it too hard to get jobs, and those in electronic engineering would also be able to ride the innovation and technology wave.
Students these days are scrambling to get into a few currently popular disciplines as prevailing perception may not encourage them to go into some traditional subjects, he said.
But, speaking from first-hand experience, the graduate said students might see things differently if they look further into future prospects.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily