Over the past decade, higher education has undergone drastic changes all over the world because of globalisation and the changing economy. The traditional view of university as a place for one-off training is now considered outdated. Instead, the strong focus on lifelong learning urges teachers, educators and academics to reconceptualise and transform education. In this new era, successful schools adopt outreach strategies and seek support from external agencies such as universities for their development. Institutions of higher education provide consultation or work with partner schools for collaborative sharing, reflection, research and growth. Hence, school–university partnerships have become important for professional development and educational reform. With the growth of school–university collaborations, there is mounting interest in empirical research on the variety and value of these initiatives. This article reviews the school–university partnerships in Hong Kong in light of the trends and development in the international context. The studies reviewed showed that school–university partnerships involving teacher training programmes focus on understanding the views of participants in school–university partnership with an aim to build appropriate teacher training and professional development features into the teacher education programmes. These studies have theoretically contributed to the construction of culturally relevant teacher education programmes. After all, new project initiatives have contributed to substantial changes in school leadership, teachers' professional development and school-based curriculum development which would benefit children's learning. The authors argue that the development of an appropriate mode of collaboration remains a challenge for successful school–university partnerships. They have a vision to move beyond the existing research focus to explore ways to build school–university collaborations. Gaps in the research base and relevant questions that have not been addressed are discussed. Copyright © 2012 by the Editor.