The Hengqin campus of the University of Macau (UM) has a spacious environment with a refreshing, academic vibe.
Professor Da-Hsuan Feng, Director of Global Affairs and Special Advisor to Rector, smilingly remarked, “Miracle is what I would say about UM. In 1980s there were no public universities in Macau. It was not until 1990s that the territory began to see its tertiary education development, which has been well on track only since the 21st century. In light of the government’s recent focus on economic growth as well as developing Macau into a world-class city, a top-notch institution is needed.”
“A scholar said an outstanding university must grow from seeds. An institution must have its own purpose, mindset and soul, as you can see from the likes of Oxford, Cambridge and Yale. After the past decade of changes, UM has established the 1.1 sqkm campus in Hengqin, nurturing its central thoughts and soul while fostering a UM culture. This is where the miracle lies. Wonder also happens when the Chinese government gives Macau the privilege to build the UM campus in Hengqin, something like a concession,” Feng added.
“UM has three main objectives: first, to develop students into valuable beings of this century; second, to help them understand their abilities; third, to help them explore unknown possibilities. Simple as these goals may seem, they are fundamental to a university where life-changing experiences take place. The way local talents are nurtured and inspired is rooted in the soul as well as atmosphere of an institution. This can be useful for life,” he said with a hopeful gaze.
“To make ourselves stronger, we also learn from the good practice of our global peers. UM has implemented a residential college system,” Feng sounded excited. “What is good about this system is that students of different disciplines, backgrounds, ages and nationalities can live and work together. This is a key part of community education. Furthermore, the students are guided by highly-acclaimed professors as wardens, who are eager to share their life experiences and contribute to form unique college cultures, and thus develop a sense of belongingness. An appealing feature of UM, residential colleges give sweet, lasting memories of campus life. The university plans to increase the number of colleges to 12 from existing 10 over the next two years.
“Academically, we are looking to achieve higher standards while adhering to our speciality. Given the policy of ‘one country, two systems’, we must have solid Chinese language skills, coupled with English and Portuguese,” said Feng with confidence. “I am glad to offer Chinese language and Chinese history subjects of world-class quality, and I see comparable standards of scientific research, for example, in our State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine and State Key Laboratory of Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI, both state-of-the-art in terms of experience as well as quality. The labs are beneficial to the development of China and the Pearl River Delta. Meanwhile, the Faculty of Health Sciences of UM, with a focus in disease-centric research, is working closely with many hospitals across Macau and the country. This expands the faculty’s horizons and scope of exchange, which is essential to more effective pathological monitoring.”
Feng stressed, “UM is striving for globalization in all aspects. In addition to hiring teaching staff from all corners of the globe, we have started the enrolment for new students from Asian countries, especially Malaysia, in recent years. These learners tend to be familiar with Chinese traditions with some knowledge of Islam and western culture. Residential colleges are set to bring a great deal of cultural adjustment, which is instrumental in our future development.”