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LCQ4: International school places

     Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau Wai-hing and a reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (March 16):


     I have learnt that the problem of insufficient international school places has plagued Hong Kong for a long time. Although the authorities allocated four sites for international school development in 2009, I have recently received complaints from some members of the business sector that international school places are still insufficient, making the children of some employees of overseas companies unable to receive education in Hong Kong. Insufficient international school places will seriously affect the incentive of multinational companies in investing in Hong Kong and undermine the Government's plan to develop the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region into a regional education hub. The authorities leased the old school premises of St. Mark's School in Shau Kei Wan to Kellett School Association Limited and Carmel School Association Limited under short-term tenancies in 2009, and the two school sponsoring bodies had only taken 20 weeks to convert the school premises into high-standard international schools. Although there are a number of vacant school premises in Hong Kong at present, the authorities have refused to approve applications for leasing by other school sponsoring bodies. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) whether the authorities will consider approving expeditiously applications by school sponsoring bodies for converting vacant school premises into international schools, so as to solve the pressing problem of insufficient international school places at present; if not, of the reasons for that;

(b) of the number of vacant school premises at present; what plans the authorities have to make use of these valuable resources; and

(c) of the respective numbers and percentages of local and non-local students in international schools at present, with a breakdown by name of school?


Acting President,

     The Administration supports the development of a vibrant international school sector in meeting the demand for school places from families coming to Hong Kong for work or investment.  Our response to the three parts of the question raised by the Hon Emily Lau is as follows:

(a) The Education Bureau has been taking a three-pronged approach to promote the development of international schools, including allocating vacant school premises and greenfield sites for the development of international schools, and facilitating in-situ expansion of existing international schools.  As far as the allocation of vacant school premises is concerned, vacant school premises have been allocated to four existing international schools for expansion purposes, and they have progressively come into operation.

     In addition, over the past two years, there were a total of nine international schools applying to the Government for using vacant school premises as temporary campuses under tenancy agreement.  The majority of the seven approved applications have completed refurbishment of the vacant school premises and commenced operation.  The remaining two applications are being processed.  The Education Bureau is finalising with the two international schools concerned their plans to use the vacant school premises in the near future.  We will continue to consider on a case-by-case basis should there be similar applications from school sponsors in future.

     With the above measures, around 5 000 additional international school places are expected to come on stream in the coming few years.

(b) In order to put vacant school premises into gainful use, we have been recycling individual premises for international school or other educational uses where appropriate.  Among the 37 primary and secondary school premises that have become vacant in the past three years, 14 have already been deployed or re-allocated for further educational uses while 13 have been provisionally earmarked for further educational uses, including those for future development of international schools.  

(c) According to the student enrolment survey conducted in September 2010, there are around 32 000 students enrolled in international schools.  Of which, 13% are local students and 87% are non-local students.  Breakdown by individual schools are set out at the Annex.

Ends/Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 17:36


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