More mainland students for HK universities
New access to national university admission system gives choice of youngsters from 17 provinces
Hong Kong universities are planning to recruit more of the mainland's brightest students after being invited to take part in the national university admission system.
The Beijing Ministry of Education has given permission for the territory's eight universities to use the National Joint Colleges and Universities Enrolment System, which allocates places to seven million students.
The universities will be allowed to recruit students from 17 provinces and cities this year - up from 10 last year. This will give them access to four million students.
Full scholarships will be offered to at least 75 mainland students at each university by the Education and Manpower Bureau under a $45 million scheme inspired by the success of a scholarship programme that was run by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
The scheme aims to provide scholarships for 150 students in the current and coming academic years on a matched-funding basis, with universities expected to meet half the cost.
EMB officers are currently in talks with the Immigration Department and Security Bureau over a relaxing of immigration controls to allow more non-local students - including those from the mainland - into Hong Kong in September.
The proposals include admitting students for sub-degree programmes as well as undergraduate studies. The current undergraduate quota is 4 per cent, although it is being increased to 8 per cent from September.
Chinese University plans to admit 250 mainland students in September using the joint admission system - up from about 230 this year and in a wider range of subjects. It also intends to offer more scholarships of its own under the bureau's scheme.
The university will select the students with the highest grades from each province or city, who will be required to take a written exam and an oral in English before they are accepted.
Grace Chow Men-yuen, director of admissions and financial aid, said: 'We believe that by joining the system, we will be able to recruit the most outstanding mainland students from a significantly expanded pool of applicants.
'Previously, universities in Hong Kong were admitting students mainly from Shanghai and Beijing and from the most well-off families.
'This move will ensure the brightest young people in 17 provinces can benefit from good-quality higher education, regardless of their background and ability to pay.
'We believe that we have a role to play in providing an education for students from China and a gateway to Asia and the rest of the world. The university also embraces the idea of a multicultural mix of students on campus that will provide stimulation and impetus for our local student population.'
City University aims to admit 150 mainland students in September using the system across the faculties of business, humanities and social science, and science and engineering, and the schools of creative media and law.
It plans to recruit only students who attain the highest grades and to offer full or partial scholarships to those with outstanding results.
A spokeswoman for University of Hong Kong said it welcomed the new concession and was ready to expand its recruitment into the new areas.
However, it would not be taking part in the joint admission system as it required all applicants from outside Hong Kong to attend an interview and all mainland students to sit an English test, which the system did not allow.
She said the university would be seeking assistance from the Ministry of Education to promote its programmes in all 17 provinces.
To enter the joint admission system, students take a standard exam. Their results are ranked by score for each province or city.
The provinces are Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong, Hubei, Guangdong, Sichuan, Liaoning, Hunan, Guangxi, Shanxi, Henan and Hainan, and the cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Tianjin.