Institute seeks judicial review of refusal to re-accredit course

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Institute of Technology is seeking a judicial review of a refusal by the city's accreditation body to renew the status of one of its courses.

The institute filed an application for the review on Thursday, alleging that the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation for Academic and Vocational Qualifications had wrongly refused to undertake a re-accreditation exercise for its associate degree of business.

The institute, then called the College of Info-Tech, was established in 1997. It acquired its present name in October 2003. The associate degree in question, which offers majors in hospitality and tourism management, was first offered after the institute gained its accreditation in the 2002-03 academic year.

In its application, the institute claims the council, and its former incarnation, the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation, acted outside its powers in insisting on the signing of a contract between itself and the school before it would embark on the accreditation exercise.

That contract was in substance different from what was spelled out in the council's own handbook, the application claims.

Further, the institute claims, the contract contained conditions that were beyond those allowed under the relevant legislation. The application claims that the council reserved the right to charge a fee for its services over and above that agreed by the Secretary for Education and that it also sought agreement to release any accreditation report to interested third parties.

'By reason of its status as a public body that performs accreditation functions under statute with fees fixed by the secretary ... [the council] cannot insist on the [institute] entering into an agreement or contract for the performance by it of a statutory function,' the application said.

The institute described the insistence on a contract being in place as 'an extra-statutory requirement imposed ... as a precondition to access those functions which cannot be supplied by any other provider'.

Additionally, if the council wanted to change the conditions under which revalidation of courses could occur, it had a duty to consult with and inform institutions they could prepare for and adapt to the changed environment, it said.

The institute is seeking a declaration from the court that the council acted outside its powers and clarifying the guidelines on revalidation.