Students shoulder reform costs
By STELLA LEE
STUDENTS may have to shoulder a larger share of education costs after 1998 if ambitious plans to boost tertiary education development are adopted, according to a new report.
The 22-page report, to be released on Friday for consultation, outlines plans to develop ''centres of excellence'' within the seven institutions funded by the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee (UPGC).
It says an extra $400 million to $800 million at current prices would be needed every year in the next decade to transform local tertiary institutions into world-class bodies.
The amount is equivalent to five to 10 per cent of current tertiary funding.
''In view of the proposed increased cost of tertiary education, we would need to consider the cost-recovery rates for tertiary fees after 1997/98,'' the Education and Manpower Branch report says.
''The UPGC's advice will be sought on whether differential fees should be considered for undergraduates and postgraduates and for overseas students, and if so, with what effect on the centres of excellence.'' The recovery rates for tertiary fees now stand at 18 per cent. A degree student will have to pay $24,000 in the next academic year, and $41,000 for 1997/98.
The report says: ''It is unlikely that the 'centres of excellence' can be afforded without substantial saving from efficiency measures or non-government funding.'' One of the annexes says there might be a need to rationalise the provision and use of expensive facilities by asking institutions to share them.
The report points out that the danger of concentrating resources in the centres of excellence was an adverse drift in academic standards between UPGC and non-UPGC funded tertiary institutions and others.
The UPGC favoured centres of excellence to retain Hong Kong's leading economic position in the development of China and the Pacific Rim by having world-class tertiary institutions.
To achieve this, the report says the institutions should incorporate internationally recognised groups of departments as centres of excellence having local, regional and international functions.
But there are no provisions about how many centres there should be.