Campus sites chosen for international schools

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2008, 12:00am

Large greenfield sites and vacant premises have been earmarked by the government for developing international schools, in a move that echoes Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's educational pledge in his last policy address.

Four undeveloped sites in Kowloon and the New Territories, measuring 8,400 square metres to 33,400 square metres, and five vacant or to-be-vacant plots in Hong Kong and the New Territories, from 3,236 square metres to 6,500 square metres, were identified yesterday by the Education Bureau.

'Subject to responses received in the exercise to express interest, we will proceed to the next stage and invite detailed proposals,' a bureau spokesman said. Any international school in Hong Kong may voice interest in taking over a site.

One of the four greenfield sites could accommodate hostel facilities aimed at luring overseas students, the spokesman said.

'We will look into the feasibility of the government supporting the development of hostel facilities on a trial basis, with a view to attracting overseas students and fortifying our status as a regional education hub,' he said.

The earliest timing for handing over the sites and premises to successful bidders ranges from September this year to April 2013.

A 33,400 square metre former military site on Castle Peak Road, Tuen Mun, is tentatively scheduled for allocation in July next year.

Premises of 6,500 square metres in Chai Wan may be allocated late next year.

In his policy address last October, Mr Tsang said the government would make available a number of greenfield sites to expand the international school sector.

A study of 12 international schools commissioned by the American Chamber of Commerce last year found average waiting lists of 331 students at five schools that provided such information.

The call for action to cut international school waiting lists has been growing as top international schools struggle to find space to ease overcrowding.

Rising numbers of applications for international schools have seen parents putting down their child's name at birth in an attempt to gain entry to their chosen school.

The expression of interest exercise would be the first step for the government to gauge the market's response to the idea, the bureau spokesman said.

Based on the outcome of the exercise, the government will finalise a list of sites and premises to be made available, and work out detailed allocation criteria.

It will also invite interested parties to submit detailed school proposals.

The international schools operating from the greenfield sites and the vacant premises must be non-profit-making and self-financing.

Interest-free loans for building schools on the greenfield sites would be considered upon application, the spokesman said.

Successful bidders for the vacant or to-be-vacant premises would normally enjoy nominal rents, he added.

Waiting for places

There has been a growing number of calls for action to cut international school waiting lists

According to a study of 12 international schools commissioned by the American Chamber of Commerce last year, the total number of students on waiting lists was 1,654