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LCQ20: Student Finance Assistance Scheme


Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kong Wah and in the absence of the Secretary for Education and Manpower, a written reply on the Student Finance Assistance Scheme by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Joseph W P Wong, in the Legislative Council today (February 2):


Students of the Hong Kong Shue Yan College registered in the 2000/01 academic year or before for full-time four-year diploma course may apply for financial assistance under the Student Finance Assistance Scheme. One of the requirements for loan repayment under this scheme is that, if a recipient fails to complete the course (including transfer to a publicly-funded university), he or she has to repay in one lump sum all the financial assistance provided, including grant, loan, interest, surcharge and any other outstanding amount. However, there is no such requirement under the Local Student Finance Scheme, which is open for application by students pursuing public-funded programmes in universities. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the rationale for the difference in loan repayment requirements between the above schemes, and whether it will consider removing the requirement in question?


Madam President,

The "Student Finance Assistance Scheme (SFAS)" was established to provide means-tested grants and loans to full-time students of private post-secondary colleges registered under the Post-secondary Colleges Ordinance, Cap. 320. Since the 2001/02 academic year, Government has implemented a means-tested grant and loan scheme known as the "Financial Assistance Scheme for Post-secondary Students (FASP)", to provide financial assistance to students pursuing accredited and self-financing post-secondary programmes. Having considered the fact that Hong Kong Shue Yan College (SYC) was then the only post-secondary institution registered under the Post-secondary Colleges Ordinance and the need to provide a standardised financial assistance scheme for all students pursuing accredited and self-financing post-secondary programmes, the Finance Committee endorsed the proposal to replace the SFAS with FASP. Since the 2001/02 academic year, FASP is applicable to all new students of SYC. Only those full-time students who were enrolled with the SYC in the 2000/01 academic year or before and are still pursuing a four-year full-time diploma course will continue to be eligible for applying for SFAS assistance. When the last batch of eligible students graduate in the 2005/06 academic year, the FASP will replace SFAS entirely.

When the FASP was established, Government had made it clear that students receiving financial assistance under the scheme must complete the relevant recognised programmes so as to ensure that public money is used appropriately and prudently [see FC Paper FCR(2001-02)30].

Both SFAS and FASP were established to cater for the needy students pursuing self-financing post-secondary programmes. The "Local Student Finance Scheme" is primarily aimed at providing financial assistance to students pursuing University Grants Committee-funded or publicly-funded programmes. Since the two financial assistance schemes are different in scope, their repayment terms are different. The Education and Manpower Bureau will in due course review various financial assistance schemes for post-secondary students and the relevant repayment terms will be taken into consideration.

Ends/Wednesday, February 2, 2005


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