Extended courses to cost 20pc more
Extending undergraduate education from three to four years will need 20 per cent more funding every year, according to university chiefs.
The heads of the eight tertiary institutions drafted a financial estimate for the switch at the request of the University Grants Committee in June. They said the extension required extra annual funding of between 15 and 20 per cent.
'I believe the average extra funding for the eight institutions is 17 or 18 per cent a year,' City University president Professor Chang Hsin-kang said.
The Government spent about $14.6 billion on tertiary education this year; an extra 18 per cent would translate to about $2.63 billion a year.
In Wednesday's Policy Address, Mr Tung said four-year undergraduate degrees could be achieved in 10 years if a consensus could be reached quickly. He said the extension required significant new resources but the Government and community could bear the cost.
The Education Commission, the top government think-tank on education policy, last year proposed that undergraduate programmes be extended to four years, but warned no extra resources would be available. It urged local universities to learn from foreign tertiary institutions, which had sought private funding.
Professor Chang said it was the first time the Government had made a firm pledge to set up a four-year system and indicated a willingness to bear the cost since university heads made the same recommendation four years ago.
University of Hong Kong pro-vice-chancellor Professor Cheng Kai-ming said the Government concluded that a four-year undergraduate education was indispensable to reform in other sectors of the education system.
City University vice-president Professor Wong Yuk-shan welcomed the Government's determination, but added: 'The 10-year time-frame is too long from an educator's perspective.'