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LCQ 36: Internationalisation of higher education institutions


Following is a question by Ir Dr the Hon HO Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (January 26):

Question :

It has been reported that the University Grants Committee (UGC) intends to internationalise the eight UGC-funded higher education institutions by attracting more non-local students to study in these institutions or subsidising local students to join student exchange programmes organised by universities outside Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a) the countries from which UGC intends to attract non-local students and the percentage of such students in the total enrolment of the above institutions;

(b) how UGC will implement the above exchanges and allocate the funds for subsidising exchanges to the local institutions; and

(c) the measures taken by UGC to attract non-local students to study in the local institutions?

Reply :

Madam President,

Both the University Grants Committee (UGC) and the eight UGC-funded institutions value internationalisation in our education system for the benefits it brings. Our local students can broaden their horizon, foster their international outlook, and have a better understanding of the different cultures. Internationalisation can also help strengthen ties between Hong Kong and other places, and facilitate cultural interaction.

The UGC and the UGC-funded institutions realise the vision of internationalisation largely by attracting more non-local students to come to Hong Kong for study, as well as by facilitating local students to join student exchange programmes. While the UGC is very supportive of internationlisation, the real push must come from the institutions themselves, and the UGC and the Government will play a facilitating role.

At present, the quota for admission of non-local students to publicly-funded full-time undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes is 4% of the approved student number targets. That for full-time publicly-funded sub-degree programmes is 2% outside the approved student number target. We set no quota for admission of non-local students to full-time research postgraduate and self-financing programmes. The Education and Manpower Bureau is now actively discussing with the relevant authorities a detailed proposal to further relax immigration control, to allow more non-local students (in particular those from Mainland) to come to Hong Kong for different types of study programmes at different institutions, with a view to implementing the new arrangements in the 2005/06 academic year. As regards the target countries, we understand that the UGC-funded institutions plan to attract more non-local students from Asian countries initially.

In recognition of the benefits of student exchange programmes, the Administration has set aside $120 million to support an expansion of the student exchange programmes for the UGC-funded institutions over a three-year period starting from the 2002/03 academic year. Funds are disbursed pro-rata to the first-year-first-degree places of the institutions. The UGC can, in the light of the actual demand for exchange places from the institutions and the speed of individual institutions to expand the student exchange programmes, adjust the allocation as necessary.

To further encourage internationalisation of our education system, the UGC has recently agreed to allocate additional grants of up to a total of $40 million to the UGC-funded institutions, on a matching basis to help institutions build up their institutional capacity to recruit more non-local students, to promote Hong Kong as the preferred place of study; and to engage more partners for student exchange programmes. To this end, the Heads of Universities Committee and the UGC have been exploring various means to attract more students to study in Hong Kong, such as by organising exhibitions overseas jointly; and by utilising overseas offices of the Government and of the Trade Development Council for promotion and publicity purposes.

The UGC will continue to work closely with both the Administration and the institutions to foster internationalisation in our education system, and to develop Hong Kong into the regional education hub.

Ends/Wednesday, January 26, 2005


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