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Continuously improving the prospects of our young people – speaking at dinner in celebration of City University of Hong Kong's 30th anniversary

On Saturday night, I attended a dinner to celebrate the 30th anniversary of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and shared my views on tertiary education.

There are voices suggesting that we should limit the growth of university places. They argue that there are already too many university students in Hong Kong and it is difficult for them to get a job after graduation. I think that this is a passive way to tackle the issue.

A more active approach is to explore new areas for employment while providing a wider choice of programmes for university students.

Take the legal sector as an example. The range of legal services provided in Hong Kong is relatively narrow and the market is easily saturated. Consequently, our universities cannot significantly increase the number of law degree places, to the dismay of many young people who would like to pursue a career in law. On the other hand, our country has become a great shipping and maritime nation, with a huge demand for high value-added maritime legal services.

Hong Kong enjoys the advantages of having the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a common law system and a biliterate and trilingual population. When I was Chairman of the Council of CityU from 2008 to 2011, I proposed that the university launch maritime-related law programmes to meet both the needs of the country in its development and those of our young people aspiring to join the legal profession. I was glad to see that CityU rolled out a two-year Master's degree programme in maritime and transportation law in 2011, which would not only provide new education and employment opportunities for local young people, but also expand the scope of services provided by Hong Kong as an international maritime centre.

I was once a young man, so I deeply understand that young people need opportunities. As long as we seize the opportunities arising from the country's development and continuously expand the scope of economic and social development in Hong Kong, our young people will be able to realise their dreams.

November 2, 2014