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LCQ8: Financial Assistance Scheme for Post-secondary Students

    Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 19):


     It has been learnt that the existing Financial Assistance Scheme for Post-secondary Students stipulates that students enrolled in accredited self-financing sub-degree programmes may apply for financial assistance under the Scheme only when they are attending such courses. If they have graduated and moved on to top-up degree programmes which are not publicly funded, they no longer meet the eligibility criteria for the Scheme and may only apply for non-means-tested loans. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  of the reasons for imposing the above restriction on applications;

(b)  among the students who had applied for non-means-tested loans from the 2004-2005 school year to the present, of the respective numbers of students enrolled in publicly-funded local degree programmes, self-financing local degree programmes, top-up degree programmes jointly offered by local and overseas institutes and non-local degree programmes; among them, the number of students who had received financial assistance under the above Scheme and obtained a sub-degree; and

(c)  given the shortage of publicly-funded top-up degree places and the above restriction on applications, how the Government, apart from providing non-means-tested loans to those sub-degree graduates in need, ensures that they are not denied access to degree programmes due to their lack of means?


Madam President,

(a)  At present, local students aged 25 or below pursuing self-financing, accredited full-time post-secondary education programmes and who have not obtained any sub-degree or above qualification can apply to the Student Financial Assistance Agency (SFAA) for the Financial Assistance Scheme for Post-secondary Students (FASP). The FASP provides grants to all eligible students who pass both the income test and the asset test to assist them to pursue post-secondary education.
     Owing to resource constraints, the FASP currently focuses on assisting as far as possible senior secondary school graduates who have not obtained any sub-degree or above qualification. Students who have obtained a sub-degree or above qualification are therefore not covered by the FASP. However, they may apply to the SFAA for other student financial assistance schemes if they meet the eligibility criteria of these schemes.

(b)  From the 2004/05 academic year to 31 October 2007, the number of applications for non-means-tested loans in respect of full-time publicly-funded local degree programmes and self-financing local degree programmes are 24921 and 7432 respectively.

     As regards students pursuing full-time non-local degree programmes (i.e. degree programmes registered and those exempted from registration under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance (Cap. 493)), a total of 1 683 applications for non-means-tested loans were received from the 2006/07 academic year to 31 October 2007. Relevant statistics prior to the 2006/07 academic year are not available at the SFAA. Also, since students applying for loans under the Non-means Tested Loan Scheme are not required to state in the application form whether the undergraduate courses they are attending are top-up degree programmes jointly offered by local and overseas institutions or non-local degree programmes run solely by overseas institutions, the SFAA classifies these two types of programmes as non-local degree programmes for statistical purpose. A breakdown of the number of students enrolled in these programmes is therefore not available.  

     The total number of the above three types of applications are 34036, involving a total of 23243 students. Among them, 803 students have previously received financial assistance under the FASP and obtained an Associate Degree.

(c)  Sub-degree graduates attending non-publicly funded top-up degree programmes can apply for the non-means-tested loan, which is capped at the total tuition fees of the relevant programme. As such, no student would be denied access to education due to lack of means.

Ends/Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Issued at HKT 13:56


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