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LCQ11: Financial situation of self-financing post-secondary institutions

     Following is a question by the Hon Christopher Chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (June 1):


     Centennial College, a self-financing post-secondary institution established by the University of Hong Kong in 2012, offers self-financing undergraduate programmes. It has been reported that due to a continuous decline in local student population in recent years, coupled with the requirement of the Mainland authorities that Hong Kong's self-financing post-secondary institutions authorised to award degrees should not commence their enrolment of Mainland students and the related publicity work before formal approval has been granted by the Ministry of Education, Centennial College has been experiencing poor student enrolment over the years and facing financial difficulties (e.g. its fiscal deficit in 2014/15 was more than $13 million) as a result. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the total number of places and the total enrolment of the self-financing post-secondary programmes offered by various self-financing post-secondary institutions in Hong Kong in the current school year; the projected number of school-age students enrolling in universities or post-secondary institutions in each of the coming five school years (set out in a table);

(2) whether it knows the number of self-financing post-secondary institutions which are now having a deficit; whether the authorities have measures in place to help such institutions address their financial difficulties, so as to prevent them from closing down one after another and thus affecting the studies of the students concerned;

(3) given that at present, eight local self-financing post-secondary institutions, including Centennial College, have not been granted formal approval by the Ministry of Education, whether the authorities will help these institutions obtain formal approval expeditiously, so that the work for enrolment of Mainland students may commence; and

(4) as it is learnt that at present, the academic qualifications attained by Mainland students upon completion of the programmes offered by the eight local self-financing post-secondary institutions may not necessarily be recognised by the relevant parties on the Mainland, thus wasting the students' time and money studying the programmes, whether the authorities have grasped the situation; if they have, whether they have taken any follow-up action?



     All along, the Government has been striving to provide secondary school leavers with flexible and diversified articulation pathways with multiple entry and exit points through promoting the quality and sustainable development of the publicly-funded and self-financing post-secondary education sectors. Looking ahead, we anticipate a shrinking population in the relevant age cohort for post-secondary education. The Education Bureau (EDB) exchanges views with self-financing post-secondary institutions from time to time on their future development and has cast repeated reminders to them on the need to consolidate their post-secondary programmes in terms of both quality and quantity in view of the decline in the number of secondary school leavers.

     My reply to the questions raised by the Hon Christopher Chung is as follows:

(1) and (2) We envisage that the number of local secondary school leavers will decrease from about 52 100 in the 2016/17 academic year to about 43 500 in the 2020/21 academic year (see Annex 1).

     Based on the information provided by the self-financing post-secondary institutions, the estimated and actual student intakes of self-financing post-secondary programmes for the 2015/16 academic year are set out in Annex 2.

     Operating on a self-financing basis, self-financing post-secondary institutions are not required to report to the EDB their financial positions under normal circumstances. For existing borrowing institutions which have been granted loans under the Start-up Loan Scheme for building campuses, if they have proven financial difficulties, they may apply for an extension of loan repayment period from no more than 10 years to no more than 20 years. In addition, the Government has launched a total of six rounds of Matching Grant Scheme so far to help local post-secondary institutions (including eligible local degree-awarding self-financing post-secondary institutions) to diversify their funding sources. Eligible self-financing post-secondary institutions altogether raised $529 million in private donations and a total of $444 million matching grants were allocated upon the completion of the sixth round in July 2014.

(3) and (4) At present, there are eight post-secondary institutions with degree-awarding powers in Hong Kong (namely Hang Seng Management College, Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Centennial College, Tung Wah College, Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Nang Yan College of Higher Education, HKCT Institute of Higher Education and Gratia Christian College) which have not been permitted by the Ministry of Education to recruit Mainland students. The EDB has been following up with the Ministry on issues relating to student recruitment and recognition of qualifications.

Ends/Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:50


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