A DEPUTY to the National People's Congress (NPC) advised the building of an associated university in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, as a way to enhance higher education in the region, during the first session of the 13th National People's Congress, the Nanfang Daily reported yesterday.
The proposal was drafted by Li Qingquan, president of Shenzhen University and deputy to the NPC, and was collectively put forward by the heads of several universities in the Greater Bay Area, including the Southern University of Science and Technology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Macao. They believe that a joint university will greatly support the region's innovative development, yet challenges remain to be met and overcome.
By comparing the region to other bay areas in the world, such as the New York Bay Area, Tokyo Bay Area and San Francisco Bay Area, the proponents believe that universities function as crucial talent pools that support the innovative development of those regions.
"The rapid development of the Greater Bay Area will not be possible without the support of talents, and high-end education is fundamental for the region to develop based on technology and innovation," said Li.
In Li's eyes, the Greater Bay Area is lagging behind its counterparts around the world, thus a joint university is needed to collaborate all efforts and resources for common development.
A specific blueprint was mapped out for the associated university. "It would be a comprehensive and practical university with a physical campus located near the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border, and it would be approved by the Central Government and built by the local governments in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao," Li said.
At the same time, Li added, the university would also function as a platform where universities around the region could have mutual exchange programs or joint courses, as well as collaborative research projects.
A special fund is expected to build and maintain the associated university, Li proposed, and a council is going to be established with representatives from existing universities in the Greater Bay Area.
However, there are indeed some challenges lying ahead when it comes to building up the joint university.
Li Fengliang, deputy Party chief of Southern University of Science and Technology, said that efforts from all sectors of society will be needed to make it happen. For instance, local governments might hold different opinions on the university and other higher education institutions might also vary in terms of their willingness to join the project.