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LCQ20: Support received on campus by tertiary students with special educational needs

     Following is a question by Dr Hon Kenneth Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (February 11):


     The parent of a visually impaired student who was admitted to a local tertiary institution in September last year has sought my assistance recently, alleging that as the student has not yet been provided with adequate assistive devices by the institution concerned, he has to carry heavy assistive devices to the campus to attend classes every day. Regarding the support received on campus by tertiary students with special educational needs (SEN), will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the current number of such tertiary students, with a breakdown by institution and type of SEN of the students;

(2) whether it will discuss with the University Grants Committee (UGC) and various tertiary institutions the formulation of a set of uniform guidelines on the provision of support for such students; if it will, of the details of the discussion and the work plan for formulating the guidelines; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) of the amount of relevant funding provided by the Government and UGC for the tertiary institutions in each of the past three years, with a breakdown by institution; whether it will consider improving the relevant funding policy, increasing the amount of such funding and providing funding to non-governmental organisations for provision of relevant support; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(4) apart from providing financial support to tertiary institutions, whether it will consider setting up a unit under the Education Bureau to coordinate matters relating to the provision of support by tertiary institutions to such students; if it will, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that?



     Our reply to the above question is as follows:

(1) Based on the information supplied by various institutions, a breakdown of the numbers of students with special educational needs (SEN) pursuing full-time locally-accredited sub-degree and undergraduate degree programmes in 2014/15 academic year, by type of SEN, is set out at Annex 1. A breakdown of the numbers of SEN students pursuing publicly-funded full-time locally-accredited sub-degree and undergraduate degree programmes in 2014/15 academic year, by type of SEN and institution, is at Annex 2. As for SEN students pursuing self-financed full-time locally accredited sub-degree and undergraduate degree programmes, we do not provide the data in respect of individual institutions since quite a number of institutions of varying scales and with different facilities are involved and some of them are concerned about the publication and use of such data.

(2) In view of the diverse needs of post-secondary SEN students, we have been encouraging information sharing among the Government, institutions and related non-government organisations (NGOs), so that relevant guidelines, codes of practice and experience in relation to supporting various types of SEN students can be discussed, shared and disseminated. To address the needs expressed by institutions, the Education Bureau (EDB) circulated a set of guidelines on "Support Services to Students with Specific Learning Disabilities in Hong Kong Tertiary Institutions", which was jointly compiled by the Hong Kong Society of Child Neurology & Developmental Paediatrics, the Hong Kong Association for Specific Learning Disabilities and 10 higher education institutions, to other post-secondary institutions in Hong Kong in March 2014. We will maintain contact with the institutions and related NGOs to promote information sharing among them.

(3) As far as institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) are concerned, since funding for SEN students is included in the Block Grant provided for individual institutions, UGC is not able to provide the actual amount of expenditure on support services for such students.

     As for the provision for the Vocational Training Council (VTC), starting from the 2013-14 financial year, an additional recurrent funding of $12 million is allocated to VTC each year for procuring equipment and learning aids necessary for SEN students, providing them with psychological and student counselling services, and enhancing the support for teaching and learning. Besides, VTC established a new Youth College (Youth College (Yeo Chei Man)) in the 2012/13 academic year to provide dedicated support for SEN students and non-Chinese speaking students. The amounts of subvention granted by the Government for the operation of the Youth College (Yeo Chei Man) in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 academic years were about $15.50 million and $20.70 million respectively.

     In addition, the Government made two separate injections of $20 million each, bringing the total to $40 million, into the HKSAR Government Scholarship Fund and the Self-financing Post-secondary Education Fund in 2013 to establish scholarships to give recognition to deserving publicly-funded and self-financing post-secondary SEN students in the pursuit of academic and other excellence. About 100 SEN students pursuing full-time locally-accredited undergraduate and sub-degree programmes are awarded the scholarships every year.

     To further promote the inclusive culture, UGC will provide a one-off special grant of $20 million in total for the eight UGC-funded institutions starting from 2015. The grant will be allocated on a pro-rata basis according to the number of SEN students admitted to individual institutions, so that institutions may implement additional measures to enhance their support services for SEN students. The funding scheme, which aims to foster an inclusive culture in the campus, will last for two years. Upon conclusion of the scheme, institutions are required to deploy resources from the Block Grant to continue with the provision of such measures.

(4) Post-secondary education institutions make special arrangements and provide support services according to the needs of SEN students. UGC and EDB have a role in, among others, maintaining liaison with UGC-funded and self-financing institutions to follow up on the provision of support by individual institutions for SEN students. EDB has also established a platform to organise workshops, seminars and sharing sessions as needed from time to time so as to facilitate information and experience sharing among the institutions in the provision of support for SEN students.

Ends/Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:44


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