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LCQ14: Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance

     Following is a question by Dr Hon Helena Wong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (November 6):


     Some people from the education sector have relayed to me that although the Chief Executive of the previous term proposed in 2009 the development of education services, the Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance (Cap. 320) (the Ordinance) is outdated and unable to keep pace with the rapid development of post secondary education. They have pointed out that all along there are no specific guidelines and restraints regarding the composition and membership structure of the supreme governing bodies and executive bodies (i.e. boards of governors and college councils) of self-financing post secondary colleges under the Ordinance, resulting in a lack of transparency and effective monitoring of the decision-making processes of the relevant bodies, and thus affecting the quality of teaching. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the existing number and the names of the self-financing post secondary colleges registered under the Ordinance in Hong Kong; apart from the Ordinance, whether there are specific guidelines to regulate the governance structures of such post secondary colleges and their composition; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether it knows the following information regarding the boards of governors and college councils of the various post secondary colleges mentioned in (a):
(i) composition;
(ii) number of members;
(iii) list of external members;
(iv) list of internal members;
(v) the respective percentages of the numbers of external and internal members in the total numbers of members in the board of governors and college council;
(vi) members' tenure of office;
(vii) whether members are elected;
(viii) whether there are members who are representatives of students and teaching staff and those who are directly appointed by the Government; and
(ix) composition of the committees formed under the board of governors and college council as well as the methods for selecting and appointing members of the committees;

(c) of the definitions of "supreme governing body" and "executive body" in the Post Secondary Colleges Regulations (Cap. 320 sub. leg. A);

(d) of the functions, responsibilities and authority of the different governing bodies of post secondary colleges; the division of responsibilities between such governing bodies and the management of the colleges, including which of them shall be responsible for making decisions and performing duties relating to the daily operation of the colleges;

(e) of the mechanism put in place by the Government to ensure compliance with the Ordinance by members of the supreme governing bodies appointed by various self-financing post secondary colleges, and the plans or measures put in place by the Education Bureau to exercise effective monitoring in order to ensure good governance and teaching quality of these colleges;

(f) how the authorities ensure that the academic autonomy of post secondary colleges will not be interfered with; and

(g) given that the Government provides self-financing post secondary colleges with various kinds of loans and research funds, etc. to support their development, of the role of the Government in monitoring and supporting the various self-financing post secondary colleges; when problems relating to the governance or administration of the colleges arise, of the criteria adopted by the Government for determining whether it should intervene to conciliate and handle the relevant problems?



     The Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance (Cap. 320) (the Ordinance) and the Post Secondary Colleges Regulations (Cap. 320A) (the Regulations) were first enacted in 1960 to govern the registration and operation of post-secondary colleges and their consequent exemption from the provisions of the Education Ordinance (Cap. 279). Since some of the requirements are already out of date, the Government, after a review and consultations, submitted a paper to the Legislative Council Panel on Education at its meeting on January 14, 2013 to propose technical amendments to the Ordinance and the Regulations.

(a) At present, there are six institutions registered under the Ordinance, namely the Caritas Institute of Higher Education, the Centennial College, the Chu Hai College of Higher Education, the Hang Seng Management College, the Hong Kong Shue Yan University and the Tung Wah College.

     According to the requirement set out in Section 4(m) of the Ordinance, a college registered under the Ordinance shall have the legal status as a corporation. The governance framework of the corporation and its composition shall be subject to the relevant legislation.

(b) A college registered under the Ordinance shall be subject to Section 2(b) of the Regulations in the composition of its Board of Governors and College Council. The Board of Governors shall consist of not less than 10 members nor more than 40, and the College Council not less than 10 members nor more than 25. According to the information provided by institutions, members of the Board of Governors are normally appointed by the sponsoring body, while the College Council would comprise members appointed by the Board of Governors, ex-officio members, and appointed or elected representatives of academic staff and/or students, etc.

     Section 2(a) of the Regulations also stipulates that a college shall set up an Academic Board to regulate the academic affairs of the college, subject to the financial control of the College Council. A Faculty Board for each faculty in the college shall also be set up with the dean of each faculty acting as chairman of the board of that faculty. The Faculty Board for each faculty shall be responsible to the Academic Board for the teaching and general organisation of the programmes assigned to that faculty, reporting thereon from time to time to the Academic Board.

     The size of membership and member's tenure of office of the Board of Governors and College Council of colleges registered under the Ordinance, their number of internal and external members with percentage, as well as the participation of student and academic staff representatives, etc. are set out in Annex. According to Section 3 of the Ordinance, the Education Bureau has kept the register of the members of the Boards of Governors and the College Councils of colleges registered under the Ordinance.

(c) and (d) Section 2(a) of the Regulations stipulates that the Board of Governors shall be the supreme governing body of a college, while a College Council shall be the executive body of the college administering the property and managing the general affairs of the college, subject to the directions of the Board of Governors. According to the information provided by institutions, overall speaking, the Board of Directors steers the course for the development of the college and makes decisions on major issues about college governance. As for the College Council, it manages the everyday matters of the college by following the directions set by the Board of Governors.

     The Academic Board is responsible for regulating the academic affairs of the College. A Faculty Board is set up for each faculty in the college to oversee the teaching and general organisation of courses assigned to that faculty. For daily operation, the president and the academic and administrative staff of the college shall discharge the relevant duties.

(e) The Government attaches great importance to the quality of post-secondary education. All colleges providing post-secondary programmes are subject to the regulation of relevant ordinances. Colleges registered under the Ordinance should meet every registration requirement prescribed therein. Furthermore, to facilitate the enforcement of the Ordinance and monitoring of colleges, the Education Bureau keeps a record for each college about its registration, as well as the registers of its members of Board of Governors, members of College Council and teaching staff. As regards quality assurance, the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications, as a statutory body, is playing important role in the quality assurance of institutions and programmes.

     The Permanent Secretary for Education may reject or revoke the registration of any post-secondary college if it does not meet the registration requirements under the Ordinance.

(f) and (g) Post-secondary institutions in Hong Kong enjoy a high degree of autonomy in academic development and administration. Under the framework of quality assurance, operational and programme-related arrangements are determined by the mission and objectives of the sponsoring body and the institution, the demand for programmes, as well as long-term development considerations, etc. The Government exercises regulation and supervision in accordance with relevant ordinances to ensure that the operation of all institutions meets the necessary requirements.

     The Government promotes the sustainable and healthy development of the self-financing post-secondary sector through various support measures, including the Land Grant Scheme, Start-up Loan Scheme and Self-financing Post-secondary Education Fund, etc. Each support measure has established an independent committee to oversee the approval of applications. The Government will also monitor the progress of related projects.

Ends/Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:09


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