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LCQ8: Development of higher education at the Lok Ma Chau Loop

     Following is a question by the Hon Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (April 1):


     After meeting the leaders of Guangdong Province on March 3 this year in Beijing, the Chief Executive indicated that the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Guangdong Provincial Government had agreed to jointly plan for a development zone at the Lok Ma Chau Loop (the Loop), primarily for higher education and secondarily for research and development of new high technologies and creative industries.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the Government's specific ideas at present and suggestions received from various universities for implementing the aforesaid plan;

(b) whether it has plans to develop higher education at the Loop using a corporate management approach, and offer university programmes with the Mainland and Asian markets as the target to admit a large number of students from these areas, so as to increase the revenue of local universities and enhance their world ranking; and

(c) given that only 14,500 first-year first-degree places are funded by the University Grants Committee each year, meaning that only 18% of those in the appropriate age group can be enrolled, whether the Government will make use of the aforesaid plan to increase the opportunities for local students to receive university education and improve the quality of tertiary education?



(a) and (b) The Administration plans to carry out a planning and engineering study and associated site investigation works for the proposed development of the Lok Ma Chau Loop (Loop) in the middle of this year to formulate sustainable and feasible planning and development proposals for the Loop.  Planning and technical assessments on aspects such as land use, environment, cultural heritage, traffic, infrastructure, engineering, air ventilation, landscape and urban design which are relevant to the development proposals will be carried out.  It is estimated that the study will commence in June 2009 and take about 28 months to complete.

     As regards land use, in view of the unique history of the Loop, the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Governments will jointly develop the site for the mutual benefit of the two cities.  The preliminary view of the two sides is that, in order to provide impetus for the development of human resources in South China and enhance the competitiveness of the Pearl River Delta, the leading land use in the Loop could be higher education, to be complemented by hi-tech R&D facilities and creative industries.  We will consult the tertiary education institutions in Hong Kong and explore the development proposals for the Loop.

(c) As mentioned above, we will carry out the planning and engineering study for the proposed development of the Loop.  Without a concrete development proposal, we will not be able to specifically set out the impact of the development of the Loop on higher education in Hong Kong at this stage.

     While the number of publicly-funded first-year-first-degree places has remained stable in recent years, developments on other fronts have led to increased opportunities for students in the relevant age cohort to receive post-secondary education.  Currently, the higher education sector provides publicly-funded and self-financed degree and top-up degree places for over 25% of the 17-20 age cohort, providing opportunities to receive higher education to more aspiring students.

     In many developed economies, the self-financing sector performs an essential role in the provision of higher education.  As such, apart from providing about 4,000 publicly-funded senior year places, we have also launched several support schemes to facilitate the development of self-financed post-secondary institutions and enhance the quality of their courses.  For example, the Land Grant Scheme grants sites to post-secondary institutions at nominal premium for the construction of purpose-built campuses; the Start-up Loan Scheme provides interest-free loans to allow institutions to enhance quality and improve the students' learning experience; the Quality Enhancement Grant Scheme funds various projects/initiatives which aim at improving the quality of post-secondary education.

Ends/Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Issued at HKT 11:51


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