Training the public administrators of the future
Across the globe, the challenges faced by those charged with the implementation of public policy are growing all the time. Governments at local, regional and national levels have to address issues ranging from poverty and unemployment, to disease and environmental degradation, while, at the same time, ensuring their approach is inclusive and, as far as possible, transparent.
In response to these challenges, the New Public Management movement – characterised by its emphasis on concepts such as flat hierarchies, customer orientation, contracting out and market-based governance – has come to be widely embraced. The new generation of ICTs—big data and AI—have been applied to the automatic decision-making of public services, which has a far-reaching influence on public administration reforms.
To help meet the resulting demand for graduates with the skills required to ensure coordinated, effective and accountable administration, Lingnan University will launch its new Master of Social Sciences in Comparative Public Administration (MSocScCPA) programme in September 2023.
Lingnan’s new programme
Hosted by Lingnan’s School of Graduate Studies, the MSocScCPA can be pursued in either a one year full-time or two year part-time mode.
Within an interdisciplinary framework, students will analyse development, public policy and governance issues, from comparative and international perspectives. In addition, they will have the opportunity to engage in experiential learning through their interaction with renowned scholars at international symposium and conferences. They will also be encouraged to conduct research on a variety of public policy topics and to attend field trips and seminars with policymakers and practitioners from various professions.
The programme culminates in the Comparative Public Administration Capstone Project and Symposium Presentation course, which will enable students to apply the theories they’ve learned to the analysis of real-world public policy and developmental issues. The types of topics students can base their capstone project on include: policy implementation concerns for China, East Asia, and other parts of the world; policy design and evaluation analysis; and, NGO management and governance.
Opportunities for programme graduates in the GBA
One of Lingnan’s key development strategies is to strengthen the university’s connection with the Greater Bay Area (GBA), as well as with the rest of the Mainland. Together, Hong Kong, Macau and the other nine cities in Guangdong, form a vibrant, and world-class, city cluster. The Hong Kong government is committed to boosting the levels of cooperation between these municipalities so that the region’s vast potential can be fully realised.
However, the varying levels of economic and social development across the GBA pose challenges for cross-regional public administration in fields such as environmental governance, social mobility, and global risk resilience. While the need to adopt a more humane approach to administration, and to pay greater attention to the grievances of the citizenry, has also become more pressing. Meeting this need requires an end to the opaqueness and the secrecy which has formerly surrounded government activities, and accountability and transparency to be embraced, instead. Rather than favouring one constituency over another, public servants will have to become responsive to all stakeholders, whose numbers includes not only their superiors, the elected representatives, but also, and most importantly, the citizenry.
The shortfall in talent across a variety of industries in the GBA has restricted its development. With its dual emphasis on public policy administration and governance, the MSocScCPA programme is designed to meet the labour market need for professionals who understand social and economic development and public policy making, and who are capable of promoting speedy development, along with good governance, in the region.
The programme therefore aims to provide students with the skills required to seize a variety of generic and specific employment opportunities in the GBA. Given their in-depth knowledge of issues concerning public policy and developmental studies, graduates will be equipped to work in both the public and private sectors, with bodies such as government departments, NGOs, consultancies and think tanks.
Studying Public Administration at Lingnan
The MSocScCPA builds upon the Master of Cities and Governance, Master of China and Regional Studies and the Doctor of Policy Studies programmes, which have been successfully launch by Lingnan’s School of Graduate Studies and Institute of Policy Studies. The programme is also in line with Lingnan University’s Strategic Plan 2022-2028, which calls for the enhancement of students’ regional and international learning experiences, and for inter-university collaboration in academic programmes and research.
Given that a number of collaborative partnerships have already been established, programme participants will be able to hear from a range of internationally renowned guest speakers such as: Professor Anthony Chueng from The Education University of Hong Kong; Professor M Ramesh from the National University of Singapore; Professor Simon Marginson from the University of Oxford in the UK; Professor Ku Yeun-Wen from the National Taiwan University; and Professor Lin Ka from the Mainland’s Zhejiang University.
In addition, Lingnan has strong academic links with a number of policy studies partners, including National Taiwan University Social Sciences College, South China Normal University and South China University of Technology. A group of young and early-career researchers from these universities will also be invited to share the findings of their latest research in the public administration field with programme participants.