These are challenging times but there are also opportunities.

Universities are complex organizations with multiple roles and functions. Not only are they institutions of higher learning where knowledge is created, disseminated and exchanged; but also communities both consuming and supplying services from and to industry, corporations and the professions. Moreover, a university like CUHK has an annual turnover of HK$8 billion, occupies 137 hectares of land, employs almost 8,000 people, produces 10,000 graduates each year for employment and further study, maintains a network of over 180,000 alumni, and undertakes research and scholarship that generate very significant revenue and other opportunities for Hong Kong and the regions. These are privileges that come with responsibilities. One such responsibility is to plan our activities on the basis of short, medium and long term goals that are set in line with our visions.

A participatory strategic planning process enables the whole University community and other stakeholders to engage—once or twice a decade—in an exercise of reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses, as well as surveying our opportunities and challenges, before determining the goals and strategies for the next few years that will enable the institution to scale new heights.

We first produced a ten-year strategic plan in 2006 which very much focused on the preparation for the 3+3+4 academic reform and the transition to the new four-year normative academic curriculum commencing in 2012. Now that the last cohort admitted under the old curriculum have mostly graduated, and after three academic development planning exercises (with competitive bids for first-year-first-degree places) and two audits on our teaching and learning activities conducted by the University Grants Committee (UGC) and the Quality Assurance Council, respectively, CUHK has to face new challenges following the release of the results of the Research Assessment Exercise 2014 which will have great impact on the research portion of our block grant funding from the UGC. These are challenging times but there are also opportunities, e.g., the HKSAR Government has set aside HK$2 billion to set up an Innovation and Technology Venture Fund to encourage more mid-stream applied research to be conducted.

CUHK's Strategic Plan 2016–2020 is the product of an exercise of self-reflection culminating in the articulation of the plans to help fulfil our aspirations for the future developments of the University.