At Shue Yan University, an emphasis is laid on the preservation and propagation of traditional Chinese culture and the educational ideals of Confucianism. HKSYU promotes academic freedom and seeks to contribute to the betterment of society through the pursuit of truth, knowledge, wisdom and a deeper understanding of humanity.
The historical mission of the University has been to preserve and propagate traditional Chinese culture and in particular the educational ideals of Confucianism which is to develop humanitarian consciousness and promote benevolence. According to the Great Learning ( 大學 ), the first of the Four Books in the Chinese Classics, the way of learning to be great consists of manifesting the lustrous virtue, rejuvenating the populace and resting on the highest perfection ( 在明明德, 在親民, 在止於至善 ).
This is implied in the very name of the University, Shue Yan ( 樹仁 ), which means nurturing benevolence and cultivating virtue. Emphasis is placed on the cultivation of one's character in pursuit of an ideal as embodied in the famous Chinese old saying: When one is well cultivated, one will be able to put one's house in order and, with harmony in one's house, one may go on to render one's service to one's country and make one's contribution to the world. In other words, when one's knowledge is extended, one's intention will become sincere and one's mind rectified, thus one's personal life will be cultivated. When one's personal life is cultivated, one's family will be regulated and then one's state will be well governed; and when all the states are well governed, there will be peace and harmony throughout the world ( 修身, 齊家, 治國, 平天下 ).
The curricula, syllabuses, the teaching methods, the students' extra-curricular activities of the University are therefore so designed as to help achieve the central mission mentioned above. Moreover, according to classical Chinese philosophy, the man of Yan is the perfect man. He is the man of the golden rule, for wishing to establish his own character, he also establishes the character of others, and wishing to be prominent himself, he also helps others to be prominent ( 夫仁者, 己欲立而立人, 己欲達而達人 ).
In these balanced and harmonious aspects of the self and society, Yan is expressed in the terms of consciousness and altruism. Therefore self-cultivation should be regarded as the root of all endeavours; that is the ultimate educational goal of this University - the spirit and the mission of Shue Yan.