Messages from Chair of Academic Advising Committee

A comprehensive academic advising system requires attention at different levels in the University, from individual teacher, Faculty, and student residential halls. I believe all of us have been working very hard in serving as the Faculty Academic Advisers (FAA) or in other capacities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all colleagues for their continuing support to the academic advising initiatives.

Prof. Wai-kin ChanPersonally I consider academic advising to be part of teaching rather than administrative duties. The advices given may affect students’ decision on their academic plan. It is also a process from which students are empowered to make their own decisions on their studies. It constitutes a critical component in students’ learning experiences. To us, it is also a good way to build a more personal relationship with our students. Our efforts and time spent are appreciated by them.

At times, academic advising can be a challenge to us as the curriculum structures in different Faculties are very diverse. We understand that the advising system needs further refinement given the fact that our curriculum and regulations are being updated from time to time as well. The Academic Advising and Scholarships Office (AASO) was set up to help co-ordinate the implementation of the academic advising system across the University, and to be available to meet and help students whenever necessary. This year, AASO will organize various workshops/sharing sessions so that some good practices and difficulties encountered by teachers can be shared. Please stay tuned.

We look forward to hearing more about your experiences with the academic advising system and your advisees.

Prof. Wai-kin Chan
Chairman, Academic Advising Committee

Messages from Deputy Chair of Academic Advising Committee

Dr. Otto Heim

Academic advising has always been part of our job as teachers, but with the implementation of the new undergraduate curriculum two years ago it also became central to the University’s vision of teaching and learning. The new curriculum offers students a much wider scope of choice and combination among programmes and subjects, along with increasing opportunities for experiential learning and studying abroad. Our expanded campus also offers room for a growing range of extracurricular activities, learning environments and support services. Posters, flyers, bulk emails and campus television announce new events daily, while deadlines huddle together near the end of term and any deviation from the curricular path requires the completion of the relevant form. This makes it challenging, especially for first-year students, to find their way through a maze of directions, to prioritize, balance, and not simply ignore the many messages jostling for their attention.

As academic advisers we play a vital role in this environment: our meetings with students are often among their very first personal contacts with the University and an opportunity to discuss their impressions, aspirations and concerns with a teacher. Our conversations can help them make connections and deliberate decisions among a diversity of options and requirements.

Needless to say, this is challenging for us advisers too, not least because we often know no more than the students about options and requirement outside our particular department or programme, and in striving to be good advisers, we inevitably learn more about the environment in which we ourselves teach. Trying to help make students comfortable in a new institutional context may take us a little out of our own comfort zones, and that’s a good thing. Academic advising, these past few years, has helped me see teaching and learning at HKU a little more from students’ perspective.

In this task, I’ve come to greatly appreciate and rely on the resources and support provided by the AASO as well as my home faculty. Academic advising fosters the development of learning communities and this newsletter is intended to stimulate interest, introduce new features, and invite exchanges of experience and suggestions for improvement. I hope you will find it informative and will share with us any ideas on how to do academic advising at HKU even better.

Dr. Otto Heim
Deputy Chairman, Academic Advising Committee