The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) could become the model for a new Middle Eastern university opening next year.
And thereby, it would receive US$25 million over five years, as well as access to additional resources.
The new graduate-level research institute will be called the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
A group of Saudis have already visited HKUST and are reviewing its proposal for collaboration, which they requested in their global search for a partner institution.
The announcement was made at a media briefing yesterday by HKUST President Paul Chu, who discussed his university's development strategy.
One of the proposal terms was for the new university to establish a research center in Hong Kong. That term passed the Saudis' first round of scrutiny, and Chu said the second round would take place next month, with a final decision being made in May.
Chu added that the universities were also discussing collaborating on two additional projects, but he declined to disclose the details.
"Both universities are interested in technology transfers," Chu said. "Saudi Arabia has a lot of resources, and I hope that the Saudi university can sponsor some of our research projects."
Apart from collaborating with Saudi Arabia, HKUST also wants strengthen its research capabilities through its Institute for Advanced Study.
The institute has already invited eight renowned academics to establish joint laboratories with the university. One of those invited is 2004 Nobel Prize winner Aaron Ciechanovar.
Two of these academics will set up companies in which HKUST will hold shares. One of the academics, Paul Schimmel from the Scripps Research Institute in the United States, has already set up a company called Pangu, which focuses on biotech research. Shuji Nakamura, a 2006 Millennium Technology Prize winner, will soon set up a company specializing in electronic and computer engineering.
Chu urged the government to increase funding for university education to enable schools to recruit more teachers and build facilities for the new tertiary education system that will be launched in 2012.
Under the new system, university education will be extended by one year, meaning curriculums will have to be amended and more space will be needed to hold additional students.
HKUST needs to spend more than HK$2 billion on building facilities. The government gave the university about HK$700 million for the buildings, but the university must find additional funding on its own.
Chu said government funding for the buildings may increase by 15 percent, or about HK$105 million, since construction costs have increased due to inflation.
(China Daily HK Edition January 5, 2008)