Service-Learning as a Core Academic Component in Undergraduate Programmes: A Brief Introduction to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Model

  • Stephen Fai Chan
  • Grace Ngai


Community engagement has been integrated into undergraduate programme to varying degrees in many universities. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,
in particular, has made it compulsory for all students to take at least one credit-bearing subject in Service-Learning (SL). Each SL subject is offered with purpose-designed academic teaching, rigorous service and structured assessment components. At full implementation, in each year, more than 2,800 students enrolled in 4-year full time undergraduate programs are expected to enroll in around 60 subjects offered by a wide range of departments and faculties across the university. These subjects cover a diverse range of topics, such as digital divide, learning difficulties, engineering design, healthy living environments, orthotics, and eco-tourism, to name a few examples. Many of the projects involve ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in some way, ranging from digital literacy training to constructing community learning centers to data analysis and simulation. The target beneficiaries are equally diverse: students serve slum dwellers, disabled people, children with HIV, villagers without water nor electricity, new immigrants, mentally ill patients, ethnic minorities, and so on. To date, they have served in Hong Kong, Chinese Mainland, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Rwanda. This paper reports on the pedagogical design of the program, challenges and strategies for implementation, and the experiences so far, with around 2,000 students enrolled in 2013-14

Author Biographies

Stephen Fai Chan

Stephen C F Chan is currently the Head of the Office of Service Learning (OSL) and an associate professor in the Department of Computing at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He has been involved in service-learning since 1996, and is currently co-teaching two information technology-related servicelearning subjects, with projects in Hong Kong, Cambodia, Myanmar and Rwanda.

Grace Ngai

Grace Ngai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computing at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She has been active in service learning since 2005 and currently the coordinator of the Subcommittee of Service Learning Subjects at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which is responsible for approving and monitoring academic service learning subjects.

How to Cite
Chan, S., & Ngai, G. (2019). Service-Learning as a Core Academic Component in Undergraduate Programmes: A Brief Introduction to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Model. The Journal of Development Communication, 25(1-2), 84-99. Retrieved from