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LCQ19: Continuing Education Fund


Following is a question by the Hon Tam Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (March 24):


Regarding the operation of Continuing Education Fund ("CEF"), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the total number of applications received and the total amount of subsidy committed since CEF was open to applications in June 2002;

(b) among the applications and total amount of subsidy mentioned above, the number of applications submitted by degree holders and the amount of subsidy they were granted; and

(c) whether it will abolish the upper age limit of CEF applicants, so as to allow people aged over 60 to qualify for the subsidy for continuing education and training in order to promote lifelong learning; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

(a) From the implementation of the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) in June 2002 to end-February this year, a total of 81 648 applications were received. Of these, 73 852 have been approved, 4 819 rejected as ineligible and the rest are being processed. Based on the ceiling of $10,000 per applicant, the total amount of subsidy committed has exceeded $738 million. As at end-February this year, the actual amount of subsidy claimed and reimbursed was about $113 million. (See Note)

(b) The eligibility criteria of the CEF have been relaxed to include degree holders since 1 September last year. Before that, applicants were required to declare that they had no university degrees. The declaration requirement was removed following the relaxation. As such, we have no statistical information on the number of degree holders applying for subsidy and the corresponding amount of reimbursement granted.

(c) The CEF is introduced to assist our workforce to be better prepared for the change in manpower requirements during our transition to a knowledge-based economy. To achieve this goal and to effectively enhance the overall competitiveness of Hong Kong with limited resources, we have to set appropriate parameters on the eligibility criteria, including the age limit. The existing age limit for CEF applicants was laid down upon consultation with various stakeholders (including academics, the business community and legislators). In view of the objective of the CEF, we have no plan to change the age limit.

We recognise the need for continuing education and training of all age groups. People aged over 60 who have the aspiration to pursue continuing education can also benefit from other programmes of continuing education and training provided with public resources. For instance, the publicly-funded adult education programmes offered by non-government organisations include tailor-made courses for people aged 55 or above. People aged over 60 may also enrol in the various education and continuing education programmes as adults of other ages.

* Note:

Each eligible applicant is entitled to a subsidy of $10,000 and a maximum of two claims of reimbursement within a valid two-year period.

Ends/Wednesday, March 24, 2004


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