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UGC honours teaching excellence

28 Sep 2021Press Release

The University Grants Committee (UGC) held a presentation ceremony for the 2021 UGC Teaching Award today (September 28) to honour academics of the UGC-funded universities for their outstanding teaching performance and achievements, as well as their leadership and scholarly contributions to teaching and learning within and outside their campuses.


The recipients of the 2021 UGC Teaching Award are:

General Faculty Members
Dr Koon Yee-wan, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, School of Humanities, Faculty of Arts, The University of Hong Kong


Early Career Faculty Members
Professor Rhea Patricia Liem, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology


Joint University Mental-Wellness Project Team led by Dr Sylvia Kwok Lai Yuk-ching (Associate Professor, Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, City University of Hong Kong), with Professor Daniel Wong Fu-keung (Professor, Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong), Dr To Siu-ming (Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, The Chinese University of Hong Kong), Dr Pan Jiayan (Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, Hong Kong Baptist University) and Miss Loretta Leung Mee-kuen (Assistant Director of Student Affairs, Student Affairs Office, The Education University of Hong Kong) as team members


The citations of the awardees are in Annex 1.


The other finalists (in alphabetical order) are as follows:
Dr Tom Joseph Barry, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Dr Marco Ho, Lecturer, Department of Information Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Dr Angel Ma Qing, Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics and Modern Language Studies, The Education University of Hong Kong


Student Innovation for Global Health Technology Team (SIGHT) of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) led by Professor Chau Ying (SIGHT Founding Director; Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, HKUST), with Mr H I Malinda M Abeynayake (SIGHT Teaching Associate and Program Manager), Mr Joel Yu Chung-yan (SIGHT Instructional Assistant) and Mr Kristopher Lam Wai-hin (SIGHT Assistant Software Engineer) as team members

This year's UGC Teaching Award Selection Panel was convened by Professor Marilee Bresciani Ludvik from the University of Texas at Arlington, who is also a member of the Quality Assurance Council under the UGC. The three recipients were selected from seven finalists among 19 outstanding nominees through a rigorous process undertaken by the Selection Panel. The selection criteria and the composition of the Selection Panel are at Annex 2.

The Chairman of the UGC, Mr Carlson Tong, congratulated the awardees, finalists and nominees on their accomplishments. He also thanked the UGC-funded universities for their support of the UGC Teaching Award. Mr Tong said, "It is our honour and privilege to have such a group of exceptionally outstanding teachers, who continued to demonstrate their passion, dedication and commitment to teaching excellence despite the challenge brought by the pandemic in the past year. With the new normal of teaching and learning in our higher education sector brought about by the pandemic, the UGC allocated a Special Grant of $165 million earlier this year to promote the medium- and long-term strategic development of virtual teaching and learning in the UGC-sector. I encourage all universities and university teachers to make good use of the funding and continue with their quest for excellence in teaching." Mr Tong also announced that the UGC will raise the award grant from $500,000 currently to $750,000 in the UGC Teaching Award next year in recognition of the tremendous contributions of the awardees, and to provide more resources for the awardees to take forward meaningful endeavours in enhancing teaching and learning.

In her congratulatory message, Professor Ludvik remarked, "The Selection Panel had a challenging task in selecting the awardees out of this outstanding group of nominees. I am deeply impressed by the remarkable achievements and impressive contributions the awardees have made in excelling the quality of learning experiences of students. My appreciation also goes to all members of the Selection Panel for their support and hard work in the selection process."

The presentation ceremony was well attended by UGC members, representatives of the UGC-funded universities including their Council chairmen and presidents/vice-chancellors, as well as nominees for the award.

The UGC has also produced a series of short video clips to introduce the recipients and finalists of the 2021 UGC Teaching Award. Through these clips, the recipients and finalists shared their approach to teaching and learning for promoting best practices. The clips have been uploaded to the UGC's website for public consumption.



Annex 1

2021 UGC Teaching Award Citations

Dr Koon Yee Wan, The University of Hong Kong

Dr Koon's teaching vision is to transform art history students' curiosity into a deeper commitment to arts. Her "art history in action" strategy underpins her innovative and effective redesign of the art history programme of The University of Hong Kong. She leverages her vast networks to illustrate the role of art in society and to highlight the myriad career opportunities in the arts ecosystem to her students. Dr Koon seeks to turn art history students into researchers and producers rather than mere consumers of knowledge through, for instance, collaborating with Asia Art Archive to nurture students' primary research skills. She is an exceptional educator who epitomises all that is best about teaching and learning in academia: her disciplinary expertise, passion, energy and genuine care for her students are inspirations to all. Her immense contributions have lifted the profile of arts education within Hong Kong and across the globe. Her teaching excellence has also received recognitions from the Faculty and University teaching awards of The University of Hong Kong.

Professor Rhea Patricia Liem, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

As a successful "woman in Engineering", Professor Liem is a well-deserved award recipient for her contributions to teaching excellence and innovation, curriculum design, as well as her commitment and dedication to both her students and to her field. Since joining the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology a few years ago, Professor Liem has made a significant contribution to, and impact on, her Department and the wider School. A key strength of Professor Liem is her passionate engagement with learners, whether that is her students, or those she comes into contact with through her other societal contributions. She is also a creative and energetic teacher, whose passionate style of teaching attracts and fascinates her students whilst simultaneously fosters understanding of key concepts. She brings a genuine and infectious passion for her subject area, combined with real empathy and understanding for her students, which combine into a highly effective and motivating pedagogical approach.

Joint University Mental-Wellness Project Team, City University of Hong Kong

The inter-institutional Joint University Mental-Wellness Project (JUMP) Team is led by Dr Sylvia Kwok from City University of Hong Kong with Professor Daniel Wong (The University of Hong Kong), Dr Siu Ming To (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), Miss Loretta Leung (The Education University of Hong Kong) and Dr Jiayan Pan (Hong Kong Baptist University) as team members. The Team aims to enhance students' wellbeing and foster positive learning experiences. To achieve these objectives, the Team has developed and implemented a positive transformational learning pedagogy, which employs a strength-based and process-focused approach to maximise students' potential by transforming their attitudes, values and beliefs. Positive transformational learning pedagogy combines positive education, which is an approach to education that blends academic learning with character strengths and well-being, with transformational learning, which refers to a process allowing learners to construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experiences. The transformational pedagogical framework delivers positive education content by enabling students to first learn about positive education theories and concepts, and ultimately embed a positive education atmosphere in the university and the community by way of student-led projects. Through a variety of activities, over 1100 staff and professionals, around 4000 university students and 1500 members of the wider community have benefitted from the work of the Team.


Annex 2

Selection Criteria of the 2021 UGC Teaching Award

Selection Criteria

All nominees for the Award were assessed based on the following three criteria -

(a) Adoption of learner-centred approaches, ability to engage/inspire/impact on students and demonstration of superior acumen in teaching, which may include a good understanding of pedagogy, understanding how students learn and adopting suitable teaching and assessment approaches that can achieve better student learning outcomes; being able to interact with students and engage them in learning with enthusiasm; inspiring and supporting students, with respect for their diverse learning needs, to build confidence and capability (including critical thinking, analytical skills, values, etc.); and outstanding classroom teaching (in face-to-face, virtual or hybrid settings).

(b) Course/programme/curriculum design that can reflect a command of the field, which may include demonstrating up-to-date knowledge of the field of study in the design of the curriculum and student learning resources (e.g., textbooks, e-learning resources) and adopting complementary research-informed teaching practices; and developing appropriate student learning outcomes and adopting innovative approaches to teaching and assessment which can facilitate students' achievement of the learning outcomes etc., at/within an institutional, inter-institutional or sector-wide level.

(c) Past/present achievement(s) and leadership in teaching and potential scholarly contribution to and impact on the development of effective teaching practice within the nominee(s)' own university and/or in other institutions, which may include demonstrating educational research and innovations in the field of study; and demonstrating leadership in the promotion of teaching excellence within the university and/or in other institutions. In the case of early career faculty nominations, the focus will be on the nominees' potential of leadership in teaching as well as their past achievements. In the case of team nominations, the impact of the collaborative work of the team on the development of effective teaching practice will also be considered.


The three criteria carry no specified weighting. The Selection Panel considered each nomination on its own merit with reference to the criteria.



Composition of the Selection Panel

Professor Marilee Bresciani Ludvik (Chair)
Member of the Quality Assurance Council
Professor and Chair,
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies,
The University of Texas at Arlington, USA


Professor Chris Brink
Member of the University Grants Committee
Emeritus Vice-Chancellor,
Newcastle University, UK and
Former Rector and Vice-Chancellor,
Stellenbosch University, South Africa


Mrs Belinda Greer
Member of the Quality Assurance Council
Chief Executive Officer, English Schools Foundation


Professor Carmen Wong
Awardee of the 2020 UGC Teaching Award
Associate Professor of Practice in Family Medicine and Medical Education,
The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Professor Simon Bates
International Expert of the Selection Panel
Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning,

The University of British Columbia, Canada