Updated: September 20, 2021 04:47 AM GMT
Th Chinese government has allowed the Catholic-run University of Saint Joseph in Macau to recruit postgraduate students from the mainland for the the first time. (Photo: USJ Students and Alumni Affairs Facebook page)
China’s communist government has allowed the Catholic-run University of Saint Joseph (USJ) in Macau to enroll students from the mainland for the first time in its 25-year history.
USJ can now recruit students from the mainland for postgraduate programs in architecture, business administration, information systems and science, reported Jornal O-Clarim, the Catholic weekly of Macau Diocese.
However, it is restricted from enrolling students for theology or philosophy courses.
USJ rector Father Stephen Morgan announced the new development, stating that permission from China’s Ministry of Education came on Sept. 9.
There are four universities in Macau, a former Portuguese colony and now a special administrative region (SAR) of China. Until now, only the University of Saint Joseph was barred from accepting students from the mainland.
We will closely observe the detailed regulations concerning this permit and will spare no effort in seeking to repay the trust and confidence of the Ministry of Education
“I was delighted to receive the formal notification from the Ministry of Education of the Central People’s Government of the permission for the University of Saint Joseph to recruit students on a trial basis for the current academic year and beyond to our postgraduate programs in architecture, business administration, information systems and science,” Father Morgan said.
He was thankful to Macau’s Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, Social Affairs and Culture Secretary Ao Ieong U and the staff of the Education and Youth Development Bureau for “the constant advocacy of our case.”
“To them in particular, I want to say thank you on behalf of the entire USJ community — staff, students, alumni and friends. The granting of this permission would not have been possible without the support and assistance of the director and members of the liaison office of the Central People’s Government in Macao and the encouragement of the commissioner for foreign affairs and his office,” the priest said.
The rector said USJ will closely follow government regulations concerning the permit.
“I am very conscious of the responsibility that the Central People’s Government has placed in USJ through this permission, and want to give every assurance of our gratitude and sincerity. We will closely observe the detailed regulations concerning this permit and will spare no effort in seeking to repay the trust and confidence of the Ministry of Education as we seek to demonstrate that we are a university in, of and for Macao, in of and for China,” he said.
Father Morgan said USJ has developed close working relationships with various higher education and research institutes in mainland China.
“Those institutions recognize the very special character of USJ as a unique platform within the Greater Bay Area for cooperation between Chinese and Portuguese-speaking countries and as an example of Macao as a base for the harmonious exchange between the culture of the East and the West. The permission we have now received holds out for us the very real opportunity of deepening those collaborations in concrete ways that had not thus far been possible,” he added.
Despite the restrictions, the permission is a breakthrough as the authorities realized that “Catholic universities are not moved by a desire to proselytize but to develop knowledge and promote an intelligent and fraternal dialogue between different cultures,” Father Peter Stilwell, rector of the university from 2012 to 2020, told The Tablet.
“USJ is the only university that, with its connection to Portugal and the Western style of teaching, truly preserves the tradition of higher learning in Macau,” he said.
Macau, a gambling and gaming hub, was under Portuguese rule from 1557 to 1999. It has an estimated population of about 700,000 on the 33 square kilometer island.
Macau Diocese has about 30,000 Catholics in nine parishes.
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