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LCQ18: Facilitating Mainland students to pursue further studies in Hong Kong
     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Tik Chi-yuen and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (June 8):
     It is learnt that under the impacts of the epidemic, many Mainland students who originally planned to pursue degree programmes overseas have switched to pursuing further studies in neighbouring regions such as Hong Kong. Some members of the education sector have suggested that Hong Kong should leverage its strength in higher education which has been developed for years to attract more students from the Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to pursue further studies in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the Government has, in response to Mainland students' demand during the epidemic for pursuing degree programmes in Hong Kong, increased the number of places of such programmes and adjust its policies and measures; if not, of the reasons for that; if so, the details (including the number of additional places), and whether it has allocated additional funding to the educational institutions offering relevant degree programmes; if so, of the amount of the funding; if not, the reasons for that; and
(2) of the specific policies and measures in place to help Mainland students pursuing further studies in Hong Kong integrate into and know about Hong Kong, and at the same time promote exchanges and inclusiveness between Mainland students and Hong Kong students?
     The Government has all along striven to promote the internationalisation and diversification of our post-secondary education sector and developing Hong Kong as a regional education hub, with a view to nurturing talents for Hong Kong and the region, and attracting outstanding talents from around the world so as to strengthen our talent pool and enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness. With world-class post-secondary education institutions, Hong Kong is an attractive study destination for Mainland and overseas students. The Government has also introduced a series of measures to facilitate non-local students to pursue further studies in Hong Kong, integrate into the local campus life, and promote exchanges and inclusiveness among local and non-local students.
     Regarding the questions raised by Dr the Hon Tik Chi-yuen, our reply is as follows:
(1) Under the prevailing policy, the eight University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities may admit non-local students (including Mainland and overseas students) to publicly-funded undergraduate (Ug) programmes by way of over-enrolment. The total number of non-local students so admitted is subject to a quota of 20 per cent of the approved student number targets for publicly-funded Ug places. The same admission arrangements also apply to publicly-funded sub-degree and taught postgraduate (TPg) programmes. In the past three years (2019/20 to 2021/22 academic years), the number of non-local students on UGC-funded Ug programmes increased from 12 249 to 13 254 (provisional figure), representing an increase from 16.6 per cent to 17.9 per cent of the approved student number targets for publicly-funded Ug places of that particular academic year; and of which about 65 per cent are from the Mainland. For UGC-funded TPg programmes, the number of non-local students increased from 100 to 124 (provisional figure), representing an increase from 5 per cent to about 5.8 per cent of the approved student number targets for the publicly-funded places; and of which about 90 per cent are from the Mainland. There is no quota restriction for the admission of non-local students to UGC-funded research postgraduate (RPg) programmes.
     As regards self-financing post-secondary programmes, except for students from the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan (MMT), there is no restriction for the admission of non-local students to full-time locally-accredited self-financing local Ug, TPg and RPg programmes. As for MMT students, currently, six local self-financing post-secondary institutions, namely, Chu Hai College of Higher Education, The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Tung Wah College, and The Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong under the Vocational Training Council, have been approved by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to admit Mainland students to their full-time locally-accredited self-financing local degree programmes. The number of MMT students enrolled in full-time locally-accredited self-financing local sub-degree and Ug (including top-up degree) programmes by these six specified self-financing institutions in each academic year should not exceed 10 per cent of the total student enrolment in such programmes in the preceding academic year. There is no quota restriction for postgraduate programmes. In the past three years (2019/20 to 2021/22 academic years), the number of non-local students of full-time locally-accredited self-financing undergraduate programmes has increased from 3 182 to 3 411 (provisional figure). There are also more than 22 000 non-local students enrolled in self-financing TPg and RPg programmes in the past two academic years, most of whom are Mainland students.
     Under the prevailing policy, there is still room for post-secondary institutions to admit more non-local students, including Mainland students, and we will continue to review the demand. Post-secondary institutions will continue to attract non-local students to study in Hong Kong through various measures, including the provision of scholarships to outstanding non-local students and the utilisation of the UGC's funding in promoting Hong Kong's higher education sector.
(2) Post-secondary institutions are committed to helping non-local students adapt to and integrate into the life in Hong Kong. They have established offices of international affairs as well as student affairs offices which provide a full spectrum of information and support services for non-local students, covering accommodation, pre-arrival information, post-arrival adaptation, scholarships, language and academic support, arrival reception, orientation activities and further studies, etc.
     Since the 2019/20 academic year, the UGC has rolled out the Funding Scheme for Enhancement of Internationalisation and Student Learning Experience and allocated a total of $50 million to the eight UGC-funded universities. Under the Scheme, universities can arrange a series of learning activities which are designed to broaden the horizons of local students. Universities can also flexibly deploy their allocated funding in arranging campus activities that promote exchanges and inclusiveness among local and non-local students.
     Post-secondary institutions will continue their efforts in promoting inclusiveness and exchanges among students of different cultural backgrounds through various measures and support services, including induction programmes, language enhancement courses, student needs surveys, cultural exchange activities, social activities and gatherings, adaptation support, counselling and consulting services, social services, mentoring and peer support programmes, as well as academic and career counselling.
     The Government and the UGC will keep in review the relevant data from time to time and consider appropriate adjustments to the non-local student quota as necessary. We also maintain close communication with the MoE on matters relating to encouraging Mainland students to study in Hong Kong and collaboration of the higher education sector, so as to foster exchanges and inclusiveness between students of the two places.
Ends/Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:10
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