Raphael BLET 0

HKBU should stop imposing General Education courses.

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This petition is mainly targeted at students, former students and staff of Hong Kong Baptist University.

A university should be the area that prepares students on the path that they have decided to follow. Unlike secondary institutions, a university's main goal is to specialize students.

Students should be able to choose the courses they wish to take outside of their faculties instead of being imposed to fulfil bureaucratic requirements such as Physical Education, Mathematics (even if they are arts students), et cetera. Such requirements are deviating students and academics from their fields, thus giving them less time for specialisation and research. Students pay universities to be the best in their fields, not to take compulsory off-topic courses. Shall students be interested in such courses, they can be given the possibility to take them voluntarily on a Free Elective basis.

Why shall students pay for General Education (GE) courses they are not interested at? Instead of spending time on these courses, isn't it better for them to take more classes in their major and other points of interest? Wouldn't it be more fruitful to have an open curriculum choice instead of obliging students to attend courses that are not related to their major concentration?

Despite the claims made by some administrators in charge of promoting this so called 'model', compulsory GE is not helping students to be successful in their career neither does it broaden their general knowledge. Instead, it has profitable outcomes as students are obliged to take a number of compulsory GE courses in order to fulfil the graduation requirements; therefore constraining them to pay for courses that will unlikely be useful to their future endeavors. Without personal interest, students will not gain from it.

While the principle of liberal education is a brave one, the implementation of GE is anything but liberal. Is it liberal to require an arts, communication or history student to take mathematics, sciences and marketing? Isn't the fact of imposing this system contradictory to the principal of liberal studies?

After the age of 18, a person is considered a major: capable to take decisions, drive, vote, et cetera. However - in the case mentioned - they are almost not given the opportunity to choose the courses they wish to take outside of their faculty, students are instead obliged to respond to what the university's administrative authority believes is useful to them. This strongly undermines academic freedom. In addition, a number academics are opposed to it too.

Another notorious measure that has failed is CCL's: it is a student's moral responsibility to attend talks and lectures outside of the university. CCL's are doing anything but broadening student's knowledge. Instead, many students will attend CCL lectures for the sake of fulfilling their CCL requirements, not because of their personal interest. HKBU has plenty of passionate scholars and students, the problem lies with the administrative structure.

GE courses should be optional and available for undeclared students who are still exploring their areas of interest. Other students should not be constrained to take off topic courses. Unfortunately, Hong Kong Baptist University seems to overemphasize and advertise this so called 'model' which is - in the opinion of many students and academics - a superficial one.

Academic freedom is not only about political freedom, it is primarily about the freedom to choose courses bringing self-interest. Imposing courses isn't a university's purpose.

Having said that, this does not mean that students should not fulfil credit requirements, they should simply be able to choose all non-major courses on a free elective basis.


'Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.' ~ Leonardo da Vinci.


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