Making History in Hong Kong

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Fifteen men and women from Hong Kong came together to make history by sharing their experiences of the University of London External System through a history-gathering technique called the 'Witness Seminar'.

Hong Kong Witness Seminar (Andy Chung pictured third from left, Professor Robert Holland pictured far right).

This failure didn't stop my love for Economics, all I wanted to do was teach the subject

Fifteen men and women from Hong Kong came together to make history by sharing their experiences of the University of London External System through a history-gathering technique called the 'Witness Seminar'.

Participants sharing their experiences of the External System during the course of the Seminar - held in Hong Kong itself - included representatives from a range of backgrounds such as legal practitioners, lecturers, engineers, directors of teaching institutions, entrepreneurs and British Council staff.

The emerging theme from the Seminar, held on Saturday 19 July, was the valued 'gold' standard of the External System degree with students and employers alike, as well as its immense flexibility and portability that allows students to study when and where they like.

Other witnesses emphasised the importance of studying for a degree, not necessarily with a view to developing a career, but adding value to an existing one, with law proving to be a popular programme for this purpose.

Rescue from failure was how Andy Chung described his experience of the University of London External System. Now a lecturer in Economics at HKU SPACE, Andy described his passion for Economics from an early age, but somehow failed to do well at A Level.

"This failure didn't stop my love for Economics, all I wanted to do was teach the subject", Andy added. Having completed a Diploma in Economics, he successfully pursued an Economics degree through the University of London External System and now with a Masters degree under his belt, Andy shares his enthusiasm for the subject with other students as a lecturer in Hong Kong.

Professor Robert Holland, who chaired the Seminar, said all the contributors provided a rich and colourful account of the University of London External System and its contribution to life in Hong Kong.

Summing up the Seminar, Professor Holland said: "It has clearly provided access and opportunity for people in Hong Kong that would otherwise not have been available to them. The System has helped change lives, contribute positively to the growth of the local economy and thereby the global economy, as well as fill a gap that existed here in higher education."

The Hong Kong Witness Seminar is the last in a series of three, held to celebrate the University of London External System's 150th Anniversary during 2008, which also marks 120 years of the External System in Hong Kong. The first two seminars, held in London, focused on the role of the External System in the UK and the Commonwealth.

The Witness Seminars have been pioneered by the University of London's Centre for Contemporary British History, which is part of the Institute for Historical Research. The Witness Seminars have proved successful as a means of capturing important historical information and personal stories for the record.

Notes for Editors

  •     The University of London was established in 1836 and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the United Kingdom.
  •     The University's founding principle is to provide education for all, irrespective of race, creed or political belief.
  •     In 1858, the University of London was granted its fourth charter, which paved the way for the establishment of the University of London External System.
  •     The University of London External System pre-empted distance education by more than 100 years.
  •     The University of London External System is a unique global network of 41,000 students in 180 countries, on more than 100 study programmes ranging from social sciences to law to health.
  •     The External System has been instrumental in the formation of British higher education - all English and Welsh universities founded between 1849-1949 offered University of London degrees before obtaining charters to award their own.
  •     Between 1946-1970, the External System played a significant role in establishing many Commonwealth universities under a unique scheme of 'special relations'.
  •     Through the External System higher education was made available to a much wider range of social classes; it pre-empted 20th Century developments in open, flexible and distance learning by more than 100 years.
  •     Famous former students and alumni of the External System include five Nobel Prize Winners: Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, Ronald Coase, Wole Soyinka, Derek Walcott and Nelson Mandela.
  •     To find out more about the External System and its 150th Anniversary please visit:
  • http://www.londonexternal.ac.uk or http://www.londonexternal.ac.uk/150
  •     Photographs are available on request.

For further information contact:

Binda Rai
Head of Global Media and Public Relations
University of London External System
Email: binda.rai @ london.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7862 8545 (office)
07920 476483 (mobile)

Peter Quinn
Senior Communications Manager
University of London External System
Email: peter.quinn @ london.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 7664 5584 (office)

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