University funding overhaul

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 October, 2000, 12:00am

A new formula to determine university funding is to be introduced because the present system would be 'unworkable' with the proposed education reforms, legislators were told yesterday.

Education and Manpower Secretary Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun also said the controversial plan to set the level of university tuition fees according to the course studied had been dropped. Neither the current funding system nor the tuition pegging plan would work with proposed moves to allow undergraduates to take courses at different colleges, Mrs Law said.

Funding is based on the number of first-year, first-degree students a university takes. But the Education Commission has proposed a credit-transfer system where students can gain credits in any subject and have them counted towards one degree.

Tung Chee-hwa announced on Wednesday an expansion in diploma and associate degree courses, whose graduates might then be exempted from taking certain subjects when joining the second year at university.

Mrs Law said: 'We shall have to review the funding formula to universities, for example, pegging funding to students' credit units.' The University Grants Committee, which advises the Government on tertiary education funding, is negotiating with colleges on a new formula. One option is to allocate funding to students according to the number of credit units a student takes in a particular year.

There had been proposals to charge undergraduates taking 'laboratory subjects', such as medicine and physics, higher fees to meet the higher costs of the courses and reflect the bigger earning capacity of graduates. The proposal sparked a series of protests by university students earlier this year.

Mrs Law said the proposals would no longer be pursued. She also said the Government would reform primary and secondary curriculums in line with the Education Commission reforms.

The Curriculum Development Council is expected to release a package of proposals next month. The reforms, with the theme 'learning to learn', aims to create an all-round education. Primary education will see more emphasis on moral and civic education, while the curriculum for secondary education will be grouped into eight learning areas. A student will have to take one subject from each learning area. The existing system of splitting senior secondary courses into arts and science streams will be scrapped.

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said teacher workloads should be eased, otherwise any reforms would be pointless.




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