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It is credited with bringing Hong Kong into the world of nanotubes and gene-chip technology in 12 years flat. But while the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) dubbed Asia’s MIT has produced an ambitious research agenda and select graduates, the city itself faces a financial crisis that could threaten the institution’s future.

In this article, Dennis Normile shows how the government is proposing to merge the institution with the older, larger Chinese University of Hong Kong. The idea is triggering alarm among most of HKUST’s faculty.

Many fear that such a move would erode academic quality and undermine the institute’s tight research focus. Others view a merger as an opportunity to reach a critical mass of students and faculty, achieve research synergy and, crucially, save money. It’s a debate that looks likely to continue far beyond January, when the panel convened to study the issue is due to issue its findings.

Link to article in Science

Reference: Science, 301, 1316 (2003)