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UGC's review of CityU's second veterinary school proposal

The University Grants Committee (UGC) announced today (January 13) that, after thorough consideration, it has decided not to support the second proposal of establishing a publicly-funded school of veterinary medicine in Hong Kong submitted by the City University of Hong Kong (CityU). The UGC also stated that, if CityU operates the programme on a self-financing basis, the institution should ensure that it has sufficient capacity to meet the financial commitment and achieve qualification recognition for the graduates.

The UGC set up a Veterinary School Task Force early last year and invited local and overseas public health and veterinary medicine experts, as well as those who are familiar with the higher education sector in Hong Kong to participate in the review work. With an independent and professional perspective, the Task Force took an evidence-led investigative approach and met with a number of veterinary sector stakeholders to collect information on various aspects to review the second proposal submitted by CityU in December 2012. The Task Force submitted a report to the UGC in late 2013.

"The UGC discussed the report of the Task Force at the meeting last Friday (January 10). The UGC agreed to the observations and recommendation of the Task Force that CityU's proposal had not provided a persuasive case for the development of a UGC-funded vet school and thus its proposal could not be supported. This was based on analysis of matters such as societal needs; professional qualifications and prospects of the graduates, programme arrangements and accreditation, research support, sustainability, budget estimates and funding support," the UGC Chairman, Mr Edward Cheng, said.

The UGC met with CityU earlier today to explain in detail the observations and recommendation in the Task Force report and conveyed the UGC's decision to the University. The UGC also stated in the letter to the CityU that the Committee understands that CityU may wish to develop an alternative self-financed approach. The UGC recognises that the provision of self-financed programmes is within the purview of institutional autonomy. However, when the operation of these self-financed programmes becomes so extensive that may affect the provision of other UGC-funded programmes, it may become incumbent on the UGC to ensure that there is no distraction from the core mission and agreed role. The UGC would expect that in reaching a view about such a major self-financing commitment, an institution's senior management and Council would have rigorously assessed the business plan, satisfied themselves as to the underlying financial strength and undertaken a thorough risk analysis and ensured that the programme obtains the relevant academic accreditation and qualification recognition, such that the students can practise upon graduation. There should be no presumption that UGC funding would be forthcoming to assist the institution should any financial needs arise from such a venture.

Mr Cheng said in the press conference this morning, "The Task Force has accomplished their mission. The UGC has also studied the report in detail and made a resolution. The UGC considers that as long as there are no material changes in circumstances or Government policies relating to the veterinary sector, as stated in the report, the Committee would not find it necessary, in the foreseeable future, to examine any proposal submitted to the UGC to seek funding to provide veterinary programme again."

Mr Cheng further affirmed the passion and persistence of CityU towards its proposal. He said, "CityU's proposal has created an opportunity for the UGC, the Government and the whole sector to take a deep look into matters on the development of the veterinary sector, education and training. The UGC is grateful for the efforts made by CityU in the past four years, and looks forward to cooperation with the University in other aspects."


CityU submitted a proposal to the UGC for the establishment of a publicly-funded vet school in 2009. Having examined the academic, clinical, and accreditation prospects as well as the financial aspects of that proposal, and having regard to the Administration's views at the time on the demand for veterinarians, the UGC then was unable to support the proposal. For background information, please refer to:

CityU submitted a second proposal to the UGC to reapply for funding to establish a publicly-funded veterinary school in December 2012. The UGC established in March 2013 a Veterinary School Task Force, comprising overseas and local experts in veterinary medicine and public health, as well as those who are familiar with the higher education sector in Hong Kong, to examine CityU's second proposal. After carefully studying and examining the proposal, meeting with the stakeholders to collect information and seek their advice, the Task Force submitted a report to the UGC in December 2013. The Task Force made in the report a number of observations relating to veterinary sector and some recommendation pertinent to the public health and other challenges in Hong Kong. The UGC considered that these issues could be further discussed in the community in the future. For the full version of the Task Force report, please refer to: