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CityU's proposal to establish a vet school

The University Grants Committee (UGC) informed the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) today that after serious consideration, the UGC concluded that it would not support CityU's proposal to set up a School of Veterinary Medicine (vet school) in Hong Kong with public funds.

A UGC Spokesman said that "the UGC examined the academic, clinical, and accreditation prospects as well as the financial aspects of CityU's proposal. UGC also sought the Administration's views on the demand for veterinarians in both the public and private sectors in Hong Kong, and whether there would be public funding for such a programme. In gist, both the Government and the UGC have considerable doubts about the viability and cost-effectiveness of a vet school in Hong Kong."

The Spokesman added that the Government had informed the UGC it could not make additional funding available for a new vet school. To support a new vet school, the UGC would have to redeploy existing funding. The cost of veterinary science programme is estimated to be around $500,000 per student per year. The UGC observed that with a programme of 50 students, the same amount of $150 million could train say, 50 more doctors, or 150 nurses, or 200 engineers or 200 teachers per year. He added that if the UGC were to support new disciplines, it would be better to support those with proven track record or synergy with existing programmes. The UGC also believed that a more efficient way to address research on public health issues would be to provide additional funding for research.

The UGC understands from CityU that it may proceed with setting up a vet school from self funding, should public fund not be available. The UGC noted that the consideration of the viability of a publicly funded vet school applied equally to a self-financed operation. As with all self-financed programmes, the UGC would ask the institutions to ensure that self-financed activity does not detract from the core work of the institutions, particularly in the run up to "3+3+4", and to have distinct separation of resources from publicly funded programmes, the spokesman observed.


CityU put forward the proposal for a vet school based on two main points: public health and need. The proposed six-year programme would start around 2012, with an initial in-take of 30 students per year increasing to about 50 students per year after five years' operation. CityU estimated the capital costs at about $500 million and the annual recurrent cost at $150 million- i.e. about $500,000 per place per year. The UGC considered the proposal in detail at its 8 January and 23 April 2010 meetings.