Education hub hostels could cost HK$1.4b

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2007, 12:00am

The government might have to spend up to HK$1.43 billion to provide more hostel accommodation for non-local university students as part of a strategy to ease bottlenecks faced in turning the city into a regional education hub.

Apart from capital funding, the government is also considering grants for universities to buy or rent premises.

An estimated 6,500 more hostel places will be needed after the Executive Council agreed two weeks ago to double the non-local university intake, which includes mainland students, from 10 to 20 per cent.

Quotas for self-financing programmes for non-local students will also be realigned with that of the publicly funded programme, while there will be no quota for short-term studies offered at tertiary institutions.

In a brief submitted by the Education and Manpower Bureau to the Legislative Council, the government said the city might need a total of 11,000 new hostel places in the long term.

It is estimated that at least HK$1.43 billion will be needed to meet the demand.

The provision of hostel places might also be restrained by lack of suitable sites near the institutions, particularly those in urban areas.

'It is likely that the problem of inadequate hostel facilities will stay with us for some time, unless other innovative ways to address this issue can be found,' the paper said.

One possible solution was a one-off grant to institutions so that they could build, rent or purchase premises to meet demand.

Another option was to build 'joint hostels' for shared use by institutions. The bureau said it would investigate that option.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced in his policy address a series of measures to transform Hong Kong into a regional education hub.

Apart from increasing the non-local student intake, the government aims to encourage them to stay and work in Hong Kong after graduation.

The Immigration Department is expected to introduce a scheme that would allow all non-local students stay for 12 months after graduation, during which time they could find work.