The Policy Address 2000

Tertiary Education - Diversity and Flexibility

66. In developed countries and some major cities in Asia, up to 60% of senior secondary school graduates pursue tertiary education. For Hong Kong, however, the rate is just about half that, not only are we lagging far behind, but we are failing to meet the needs of a knowledge-based economy. It is imperative we catch up. Our objective is that within ten years, 60% of our senior secondary school leavers will receive tertiary education. By then, we will need to provide about 28 000 additional places for higher education, bringing the total number to around 55 000.

67. In achieving this target, the Government will facilitate tertiary institutions, private enterprises and other organisations to provide options other than the traditional sixth form education, such as professional diploma courses and sub-degree courses. We will consult these organisations, examine the demand and allocate more resources by providing land and one-off loans to those institutions interested in offering such courses. We will further extend the scope of assistance offered to students by the Non-means Tested Loan Scheme and low-interest loan scheme, and will offer fee remission to the most needy students. We need to build a flexible higher education system that offers various channels and different modes of learning, so that everyone can pursue continuing education at different stages of life.

68. Universities are the cradle for nurturing our future leaders, the base for intellectual advancement as well as a key source of impetus for social development. And our universities have taken up these responsibilities with distinction. We must now create the conditions for our universities to further excel in both academic research and the quality of teaching so they can take on more demanding tasks and rise to greater challenges. The EC's recommendations on the development of university education include reforming the university admission criteria, shortening secondary education to six years and extending the usual length of degree programmes to four years, expanding the transferable credit unit system, enhancing quality assurance and encouraging the establishment of private universities. Over the next two years, the Government will formulate its policies after considering these issues with the EC, the University Grants Committee (UGC) and the eight UGC-funded institutions.

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