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LCQ8: Granting of university title for tertiary institutions

    Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):


     Regarding the issue of the naming of local institutions of higher education ("institutions") as university, in particular the Hong Kong Institute of Education ("HKIEd"), will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  of the conditions, procedures and laws that the institutions must comply with before they are granted self-accreditation for the degree programmes they offer ("self-accreditation") and can be named as university;

(b)  of the organisation which deals with applications from institutions for being named as university and the membership of the organisation; whether institutions, which do not accept the decision on their applications or dispute their applications with the organisation, have the opportunity to express their grievances; if so, of the procedure involved; if not, how it ensures that their applications are dealt with fairly and equitably;

(c)  whether the institutions that have been granted self-accreditation have to take the initiative to apply or have to be invited by the Government or the University Grants Committee for being named as university, and the details of the process involved;

(d)  whether HKIEd, which has been granted self-accreditation, meets the requirements to be named as university; if so, of the timetable and procedures for it to be so named; if not, the conditions, procedures and laws that HKIEd has to comply with before being named as university, and whether the relevant conditions are different from those required of other universities in their naming processes;

(e)  of the time gaps between granting self-accreditation to local universities and their being named as university; whether there are any institutions which have not been named as university after being granted self-accreditation; if so, of the names of such institutions and the reasons for their not being named as university, and whether they know the reasons to enable them to conduct reviews; and

(f)  regarding universities and other institutions, which have been granted self-accreditation, whether there are legal requirements governing the provision of courses, award of degrees, academic status, remunerations for their staff and application for government funds; if so, whether the requirements applicable to these universities are different from those applicable to these institutions; if they are different, of the details; and whether the authorities will need to allocate additional funds to HKIEd as a result of its being named as university?


Madam President,

(a) and (d)

     In general, to be granted self-accrediting status, a higher education institution must have an enduring commitment to quality, and the capability to do so with sound internal quality assurance mechanisms and improvement processes to ensure the quality and standards of its programmes and graduates. When considering whether an institution can be granted self-accrediting status, the University Grants Committee (UGC) or the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation (HKCAA) will conduct an institutional review to assess the institution's readiness to take responsibility for the quality and standards of its own programmes.  Taking into account the result of the institutional review, the Administration will submit its recommendation to the Chief Executive-in-Council for consideration.

     Self-accreditation and university title are two separate issues. An institution awarded self-accrediting status is not automatically granted the title of a university.  At present, the Government will consider the merits of each case and take into account other relevant factors in processing each and every application. In general, the Government will consider a number of factors including the objective of establishing the university; the quality and standard of its academic programmes; the effectiveness of teaching and learning at the institution; its academic research and development; the institution's internal governance and the leadership of its management; the financial situation of the institution; its sustainability; and the public interest, etc. Taking into account the views of the UGC or the HKCAA, the Administration will submit its recommendation to the Chief Executive-in-Council for consideration. In addition, where the change of an institution¡¦s title involves legislative amendments to its governing ordinance, such legislative amendments will be subject to the approval of the Legislative Council.

     The prevailing trend internationally is for the development of comprehensive universities. There are quite a number of outstanding higher education institutions around the world which have the power to confer degrees and higher qualifications, but are not titled "university".

(b) and (c)

     As explained above, the Administration will take into account a number of factors in considering whether the university title should be granted to an institution, including the institution's internal governance structure and governing ordinance; and whether the programmes being offered by the institution have the attributes of a university under Hong Kong's education system, and the public interest, etc. In the past, applications for titular change were submitted by institutions. The Education and Manpower Bureau, UGC, HKCAA and the institutions maintain close contact with each other and will discuss the necessary administrative and legislative procedures involved in handling applications for titular change, if so required.

(e) Self-accrediting status and university title are two separate issues; and depending on the circumstances, the time gap between the two awards varies. Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) is a tertiary institution with self-accreditation status but not university title. HKIEd obtained self-accrediting status in respect of its teacher education programmes in 2004, and since then the Government has not received the institution's application for university title.

(f) A self-accrediting institution may offer programmes, award degrees and draw up remuneration packages for its staff in accordance with its governing legislation; and may apply for Government funding in accordance with Government's funding mechanism, irrespective of whether it carries a university title or not.

     The HKIEd is one of the eight UGC-funded institutions. The UGC has a rigorous process to examine the Academic Development Proposals submitted by the UGC-funded institutions for assessing their funding requirements. This funding mechanism is applicable to all UGC-funded institutions, including HKIEd.

Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Issued at HKT 14:01


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