Chapter 2: The Providers of Higher Education

2.1 It will be seen from the previous chapter that we have within Hong Kong a demand from all age groups for higher education, ranging from young people seeking an initial qualification, to older men and women making up for lack of earlier opportunity, to those of any age wishing to extend their knowledge for either work or leisure. The providers of this higher education fall into a number of distinct categories.

2.2 First, there are the institutions, mainly concerned with initial qualification for young students, funded by government through the University Grants Committee. They include City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Lingnan College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and The University of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Institute of Education, also now a UGC institution, has additionally a major in-service role. This group of institutions has about 87,000 full-time equivalent (fte) students (including those taking continuing and professional education courses) and receives some HK$8,300 million recurrent grant from public funds. As well as their teaching role in higher education, these institutions are also concerned with the codification of knowledge (scholarship) and the creation of new knowledge (research).

2.3 Advisory responsibility for the Hong Kong Institute of Education has only recently been transferred to the Committee, but the UGC has been giving advice informally to government on the academic development plans and funding requirements of the Institute since 1995.

2.4 Second, we have those institutions under the aegis of the Vocational Training Council, which has a recurrent grant from government of about HK$1,000 million. Seven of the VTC institutions are Technical Institutes offering craft and technician courses which are outside the scope of this report, but the Hong Kong Technical Colleges at Chai Wan and Tsing Yi provide 3-year full-time higher diploma courses, and part-time higher certificate courses, for some 4,700 fte students. The Council is also involved in higher education through its provision of workshop experience for engineering undergraduates and its administration of the Engineering Graduate Training Scheme, and through the wide range of CPE upgrading offered by its training centres and management development centre and through out-centre courses and seminars.

2.5 Directly funded by government is The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The APA offers degrees, diplomas and certificates in Dance, Drama, Music and Technical Arts. It receives a government subvention of about HK$130 million and has some 700 full-time students.

2.6 In the non-government sector, the only institution officially registered under the Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance is Shue Yan College. It offers four-year diploma courses to some 2,500 full-time students and a small number of first degree and master's programmes, with about 1,000 students, in association with universities in China and overseas. Chu Hai College, which has strong associations with Taiwan, is not registered. It has about 1,000 full-time students.

2.7 The Open Learning Institute of Hong Kong was set up by government initiative, but has now become largely self-financing. The OLI is the principal institution concerned with distance learning, although it does also provide study rooms, library facilities and tutorial support. It has some 18,000 students of whom half are in the 26-35 age range. The OLI states that the equivalent fte numbers are about 8,000. The OLI has an income (almost all from fees) of some HK$210 million. Another more recent distance learning venture is Online Education Ltd, an "electronic university" whose students study at home for mainly postgraduate degrees of overseas institutions.

2.8 Among the non-government providers of post-secondary education for adults are the Catholic Caritas Adult and Higher Education Service with its Francis Hsu College taking about 400 full-time students on three-year diploma courses. Caritas had an annual turnover of some HK$120m in 1994-95. The Hong Kong Management Association offers diploma and certificate courses (mostly part-time) and first degree and master's courses in association with other universities and the topics are all management related.

2.9 Other Trade Associations also offer some courses at tertiary level as do the Hong Kong Productivity Council and overseas government agencies (British Council, Goethe Institute and Alliance Fran(aise). The Hong Kong College of Technology concentrates upon professional qualifications, aided by its Information Service Centre of Professional Studies. Other sources of higher education within Hong Kong include minor offerings by institutions mainly devoted to secondary-level work and courses run in-house by major employers including the Civil Service. In total, these additional sources may cover 26,000 fte higher education students.

2.10 As well as this provision by both government and the private sector within Hong Kong itself, about 300 institutions outside Hong Kong offer higher education courses through partners or agents here and by various combinations of distance learning and teaching in Hong Kong. The standards of such courses are regulated by the Non-Local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance. It is estimated that at present about 5,000 fte students are studying by this means. Some students will also be taking correspondence courses with institutions which have no base or contact in Hong Kong. The fte numbers are probably small, but we have no data.

2.11 All of the sources of higher education which we have described so far are available to students residing in Hong Kong. There is a long tradition, however, for some students (particularly those in the younger age groups) to seek higher education outside the territory. Universities in North America, the Commonwealth and elsewhere welcome Hong Kong students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level in part because of the fee income which they bring but also because they have a reputation for diligence and achievement. Those going overseas are almost all full-time students. The USA has about 13,000 Hong Kong students in higher education, the UK 10,000, Australia 9,000 and Canada about 6,500. Numbers for other places of study, such as Mainland China and Taiwan, are smaller, but may amount to another 2,000 in all.

2.12 There is, of course, a reverse movement to that described in the preceding paragraph. Hong Kong institutions recruit students from outside the territory. The numbers, which are included in those already given for Hong Kong institutions, are at present small, but they are growing, particularly at the post-graduate level.

2.13 Finally, there is a very small provision by Hong Kong institutions, via distance learning, to students outside the territory. This is potentially a growth area.


The pattern of higher education and its provision which we have described is summarised in Tables 2.1 and 2.2.

Table 2.1 The Pattern and Provision of Higher Education

Provider Fte Students Studying In Hong Kong Fte Students Studying Outside Hong Kong
In Hong Kong 130,000# Very Small
Outside Hong Kong 5,000 40,000

Table 2.2 Enrolments in Hong Kong Institutions (fte)

UGC Institutions 87,000
APA 700
OLI 8,000
VTC TCs 4,700
Shue Yan College 2,500
Others (mostly CPE) 26,000

Source: UGC Secretariat and institutions concerned

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