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LCQ 7: UGC-funded institutions operate courses in the Mainland


Following is a question by the Hon Szeto Wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (June 30):


Regarding the investment or operation of educational programmes outside Hong Kong by the University Grants Committee-funded institutions (UGC-funded institutions), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of UGC-funded institutions operating educational programmes or providing courses outside Hong Kong in each year since 2001 and in each of the next three years; their sources of funding and amounts of investment in this respect; the number of courses involved, the admission capacities and tuition fees of such courses, the course venues and the levels of academic qualifications awarded, as well as the respective numbers of local and non-local students admitted to such courses;

(b) whether Hong Kong students enrolled in the courses run by UGC-funded institutions outside Hong Kong are eligible for government subsidy; if so, of the number of students applying for subsidy in each of the past three years, as well as the educational institutions involved, the titles and tuition fees of the courses concerned, the levels of academic qualifications awarded, and the total amounts of subsidy granted;

(c) whether a UGC-funded institution is allowed to practise cross-subsidy, in terms of manpower and teaching, between its education resources from public and private sources and between its education resources for local and non-local programmes; if so, of the reasons for that; if not, how such cross-subsidy can be prevented; and

(d) how it monitors the educational programme investments or development plans of UGC-funded institutions, so as to ensure that such investments and plans will not cause a financial burden on them in the long term; of the objective criteria for ensuring that UGC-funded institutions should only operate educational programmes outside Hong Kong on a stable footing, as well as how it assures the quality of the academic qualifications awarded by UGC-funded institutions in the Mainland?


Madam President,

(a) The University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded institutions may offer self-financing courses in Hong Kong or elsewhere in accordance with their respective governing legislation. According to the institutions, several of them are now offering self-financing educational courses in the Mainland. Since these activities are not funded by the UGC, and no public funds are involved in the offering of such programmes, institutions have not reported the details of these programmes to the UGC and/or the Administration.

(b) Local students pursuing full-time and accredited self-financing post-secondary education programmes are eligible for financial assistance under the "Financial Assistance Scheme for Post-secondary Students" (FASP) and "Non-means Tested Loan Scheme for Post-secondary Students" (NLSPS), even if part of the programme is offered outside Hong Kong, provided that such modules do not exceed 50 per cent of the programme. In the past three years, only one student met the above criteria and was provided with financial assistance in the 2002/03 academic year. Details are as follows:

  Institution             Hong Kong Community College, 
                            The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  Programme               Associate in Business
  Location                Zhuhai
  Tuition Fee             HK$31,000
  Award                    Associate Degree
  Financial Assistance  Grant under FASP: HK$31,000
                            Loan under NLSPS: HK$33,690

(c) The UGC and its funded institutions are fully conscious of the need to ensure the proper use of public funds for the purposes they were provided for. According to the UGC "Notes on Procedures" which set out, among other things, the funding arrangements, in order to avoid dilution of public resources and cross subsidy to non-UGC-funded activities, institutions should levy overhead charges on non-UGC-funded activities. In addition, institutions are required to submit a report compiled by their external auditors every financial year and confirm that public funds allocated to them are used for the purposes they were provided for.

(d) The Administration and the UGC recognised the need to preserve academic freedom and institutional autonomy subject to this being commensurate with the need for the institutions to be publicly accountable for its financial position. To this end, the UGC has put in place a rigorous process to examine the Academic Development Proposals submitted by the UGC-funded institutions in the context of their funding proposals. This is to ensure that the institutions' proposals are in line with their respective roles and missions and that they respond positively to community needs.

As regards the educational programmes offered by the UGC-funded institutions in the Mainland, since they are all self-financed, they should not become a financial burden for the publicly-funded part of the concerned institutions.

The UGC-funded institutions have all acquired self-accrediting status and are mindful of the importance of maintaining their academic reputation. According to the institutions, the quality assurance processes for their educational programmes offered outside Hong Kong are similar to those applicable to similar courses offered in Hong Kong.

Ends/Wednesday, June 30, 2004


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