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LCQ8: Appointment of presidents for UGC-funded 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 (February 28):


     Regarding the tertiary institutions funded by the University Grants Committee, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the institutions whose relevant legislation or statutes expressly prohibit Council members who are teaching staff, administrative staff or students of the institution concerned from participating in the appointment and removal of the Vice-Chancellor/President or Pro-Vice-Chancellor/Vice President, and the reasons for making such provisions;

(b) whether it has assessed if such provisions contravene the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap. 383) and if they constitute discrimination; and

(c) whether it will amend such provisions; if it will, how and when amendments will be proposed; if not, of the reasons for that, and how it ensures equality before the law?


Madam President,

     The University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded institutions are autonomous bodies governed by their own ordinances. These governing ordinances empower the Council of the institutions to appoint and remove Presidents/Vice-Presidents (or their equivalents).  Institutions can draw up their own procedures for the appointment of Presidents/Vice-Presidents (or their equivalents) in accordance with the relevant ordinances.  Due to historical and other reasons such as different philosophy, religion, culture and circumstances of individual institutions, the ordinances for the eight UGC-funded institutions, including the provisions governing the participation of staff/student Council members in the appointment of President/Vice Presidents (or their equivalents), do vary.  

     At present, the ordinances for three of the eight UGC-funded institutions, namely, the City University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong, do not contain clauses which expressly limit Council members who are student and staff to participate in their respective Council's decision-making processes regarding the appointment/removal of Presidents and Vice-Presidents.  As regards the other five UGC-funded institutions, there are provisions in their respective ordinances which exclude student and/or staff Council members from participating in the Councils' consideration of the appointment, promotion or personal affairs of individual officers, teachers and other staff members, including the appointment/removal of the Presidents and Vice-Presidents.  

     In view of the transient nature of the student body and the need to prevent conflict and partisanship among staff of the institution, and in order to ensure that decisions in relation to the choice of the heads and deputy heads of the institutions are made on the basis of the long-term needs and interests of the institution, the provisions which treat student and staff Council members differently from other Council members and which exclude student and staff representatives from direct participation in the appointment/removal of the President and Vice-Presidents (or their equivalents) are justified.  The difference in treatment is not arbitrary, nor does it constitute discrimination or offend the principle of equality before law.  The provisions are consistent with the Hong Kong Bills of Right Ordinance and the human rights provisions of the Basic Law.

     All the UGC-funded institutions are mindful of the important role their staff and students play in the appointment of Presidents and Vice-Presidents.  In this regard, all UGC-funded institutions have engaged students and staff in the processes for selecting heads of institutions to ensure that they have ample opportunities to express their views on such matters.  Such measures include informal consultations during the selection processes, opportunities for candidates to meet with students and staff members, and presenting views of student and staff members to the Council for consideration.  

Ends/Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Issued at HKT 14:28


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