Conspectus of Section F

In Section C we described the state that higher education in Hong Kong has reached today, following a period of rapid development and change consequent in part upon the recommendations of ECR3 and their implementation. In Section F we shall look at the future - particularly the next decade up to 2006. The pattern of development and spending for much of higher education in Hong Kong has been set for the period up to 1998 by the 1995-98 triennial settlement for the UGC institutions. The VTC technical colleges are part-way through a different three-year expansion, with their (head count) student numbers stabilising at 13,600 in 1996/97.

The picture within the UGC HEIs for 1995-98 is one of static undergraduate intakes, although with some growth of total undergraduate numbers due to increasing cohorts of entrants in earlier years. Both taught and research postgraduate student populations are expected to grow and research expenditure will increase. Although expenditure is predetermined and is based upon agreed academic development programmes, there is room within the triennium, as always, for change and experiment. Nothing very radical, however, is expected prior to 1998, since both the UGC and VTC institutions are to some extent consolidating after recent expansion. Other providers, both public and private, usually work on annual programmes, but nevertheless most of the arguments and proposals in Section F can be regarded as having a common starting date of 1998 and being relevant at least up to 2006.

Section F is more philosophical in nature than the mainly factual reporting found in Section C. The early chapters (Chapters 25 to 28) consider the purposes of higher education, the ways in which those purposes are currently fulfilled, and the changes which may occur over the next decade. Much space is given to full-time undergraduate education, which we believe will continue to be a major concern. In Chapter 29 we turn to a topic which excited much interest following the publication of our interim report - the pursuit of excellence. In Chapters 30 to 32 we discuss future student numbers and the future roles of the providers. For the first half of the decade 1996-2006 we have the benefit of government manpower projections, but we lack that information thereafter and our analysis of numbers post-2001 is necessarily more tentative. Section F ends with a consideration of extraterritorial factors and of possible demands upon, and opportunities for, higher education in Hong Kong contingent upon the change of sovereignty in 1997. It is important to note that we exclude from this section Continuing and Professional Education, whose future is covered in Section E.

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