Co-op@CUHK: First University-wide Co-op Programme in Hong Kong
In the coming school year, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) will be launching the “CUHK Co-operative Education Programme” (Co-op@CUHK) which combines classroom-based learning with full-time work attachment. It is the first credit bearing, full-time, paid and university-wide Co-op programme for CUHK students of all disciplines enrolling in the third and fourth year of a bachelor programme in academic year 2021-2022. The first cohort of some 100 students with outstanding performance in academic and extra-curricular activities will be recruited. After completion of the required preparatory courses and experiential learning workshops, job matching will be arranged by the University for students with job postings from enterprise companies in different fields of industry. These candidates will be interviewed by the employer company to finalise the job offer to the student who will gain full-time paid work experience.
Triple-win situation for CUHK, students, and employers
Co-operative education has been adopted by many well-known universities around the world, namely Drexel University in USA, the University of Waterloo in Canada, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, to bring schools, students, and employers the benefits of a triple-win situation. With the programme, the universities are able to strengthen partnerships with industry, promote experiential education and enrich the university’s curricula, while students are well-equipped with advanced professional skills and workplace knowledge to obtain better career opportunities. By providing full-time work attachment, the industry partners will be able to identify and recruit talented people early and have an additional channel for communicating with the university for further collaborations.
Different from internships or experiential learning programmes
Co-op@CUHK is more comprehensive in both duration and requirements, than general internships or experiential learning programmes. Through Co-op@CUHK, participating students are expected to enhance their professional skills and knowledge on top of classroom learning, while being challenged to meet the expectations of employers and industries in the real world. The “on-the-job-learning” provides 8 months of full-time and paid work experience in companies where students will become even more competent for career opportunities upon completion of the programme.
Enrich the curricula of undergraduate courses and bring a new initiative to the education sector
“Student experience” is one of the key areas being addressed in CUHK Strategic Plan 2021-2025. Co-op@CUHK, a co-operative education that combines classroom learning with productive and paid work experience in a field related to students’ academic or career goals, will be a key project of CUHK to enrich the curricula of undergraduate programmes.
Professor Alan K.L. Chan, Provost of CUHK remarked, “The vision of Co-op@CUHK is to cater for the unmet needs of the evolving new economy and bridge the knowledge gap between ‘text-book’ theory and ‘real world’ practices. I am very pleased that CUHK is the first in Hong Kong to launch this university-wide innovative programme. It is part of the CUHK strategic plan to enhance students’ experience and bring new ideas about innovative thinking and teaching back to CUHK.”
Equipping students with professional skills prior to work
Co-op@CUHK aims to offer effective career development opportunities to the students by providing them with professional skills and an industry network through a full-time work attachment prior to graduation. The programme helps students to be prepared for the workplace by offering diversified pre-employment and on-the-job courses.
The “classroom-based learning” will contain two parts: (1) Unlocking Employability Potential and Personal Branding (2) Developing Workplace Professionalism. The first part will cover a wide range of topics from professional CV building, interview skills and mock interviews, to professional image building and career bootcamp. The second part will cover knowledge of intellectual property, cyber security, data privacy, business secrets and confidentiality, cross-cultural management, stress management, law and regulations, and professional communication skills.
For the “on-the-job-learning”, a job matching will be arranged by the University in which students’ and employers’ preferences are considered. Students have to take courses delivered online or in mixed mode during the two work terms and submit a continuous self-assessment upon completion.
Upon completion of the trainings, students will get 5-6 credits.
Professor Isabella Poon Wai-yin, Pro-Vice-Chancellor/Vice-President of CUHK remarked, “The flexible and diversified Co-op@CUHK programme allows students to embrace opportunities to simultaneously acquire learning and working experience. The programme encompasses pre-placement and work-term courses, and the duration of the full-time work attachment with generous remuneration will last for eight months. It broadens students’ horizons with knowledge in different fields of professionalism, enables them to self-reflect and enhance their own capabilities with a view to identifying and orchestrating their future study plans and career aspirations to maximise their competitive edge.”
Establish a communication platform between the University and industry partners and help enterprises identify talent
Co-op@CUHK has received positive support and responses from industry. Over 70 companies in the fields of medical, technology, telecommunications, finance, testing and certification, public service, and other industries will participate in the programme.
Professor Daniel H.S. Lee, Associate Vice-President (Innovation and Enterprise) of CUHK remarked, “We are thankful for and greatly appreciate the enthusiastic support from our industry partners to make this collaborative programme a success. Our industry partner companies offer job postings and mentorships for our students, while providing valuable advice on the implementation of the programme. The programme also serves as a communication platform between CUHK and our industry partners fostering additional public-private partnership opportunities. It enables the University to have a first-hand knowledge of the talent demand in the industry so that we can better prepare our curricula and our graduates to serve society. This programme demonstrates a joint effort to make our students, our University, our partnering enterprises and Hong Kong better.”
Co-op@CUHK will roll out in September 2021
Dr. John Lai, Programme Director of Co-op@CUHK remarked, “Under the new normal, we need to better position our graduates. By launching Co-op@CUHK, we hope to help our students to have a clearer idea on their career path, acquire the necessary knowledge to navigate in a diverse work environment and culture, and increase their self-awareness for continuous enhancement. As a result, the programme will enhance students’ employability and, bring in a new admission feature to attract talent to CUHK, as well as cultivate a meaningful industry-university partnership.”
The recruitment will start in September 2021, training courses and activities will follow in December 2021 with commencement of work terms in May 2022.