The story of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University can be traced back to the founding of the Government Trade School in 1937. Situated in Wood Road, Wanchai, the School was the first publicly funded, post-secondary technical institution in Hong Kong. Under Mr G. White, the then principal, it ran classes in marine wireless operating, mechanical engineering and building construction.
After World War II, the School became the Hong Kong Technical College in 1947, offering both full-time and part-time courses. In 1956, backed by a $1 million donation from the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association, the Government provided a similar sum and a site in Kowloon to support the construction of a new building for the College. Officially opened in 1957 by Sir Alexander Grantham, the then Governor of Hong Kong, the college in Hung Hom started off a new phase of technical education in Hong Kong.
In 1965 Dr Sze-yuen Chung (now Sir Sze-yuen Chung), in a speech to the Legislative Council, said that the time has come to consider establishing a polytechnic-type institution in Hong Kong. A Polytechnic Planning Committee was later set up in May 1969 under the chairmanship of the late Dr Tang Ping-yuen.
Following the Government’s acceptance of the Committee’s Final Report, the Hong Kong Polytechnic Ordinance came into force on 24 March 1972, and the first Board of Directors of the Polytechnic (renamed “Polytechnic Council” in 1978) was formed under the chairmanship of Dr Chung. Upon the invitation of the Board, the Governor Sir Murray MacLehose agreed to be the first President of the Polytechnic. Mr Charles Old was appointed the Polytechnic’s first Director.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic was formally established on 1 August 1972, taking over the campus and staff of the Hong Kong Technical College. Its mandate was to provide application-oriented education to meet the community’s need for professional manpower resources. In the academic year 1971/72, before its handing over to the Polytechnic, the Technical College had just over 1,700 full-time day, 740 part-time day release and 9,340 part-time evening students in eight teaching departments.
With most of the College’s courses at technician and craft levels already transferred to the Morrison Hill Technical Institute established in 1969, the new Polytechnic started off focusing on achieving teaching standards appropriate to a Polytechnic. Since then, the Polytechnic has undergone extensive development and rapid expansion. The Institution launched its first five degree programmes in 1983, and introduced its first MPhil and PhD programmes in 1986 and 1989 respectively.
With approval from the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee for self-accreditation of degree programmes, the Institution assumed full university status on 25 November 1994, changing its name to “The Hong Kong Polytechnic University”.