• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:01am
NewsHong Kong

Lack of hostel space in Hong Kong forces non-local students into rental market

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 7:42am

At least 12,000 non-local university students, most from the mainland, are living in private-sector flats because of a lack of campus hostel places.

The students are putting pressure on the market as they compete with locals, yet they have been overlooked by the high-level committee that is formulating the city's long-term housing policy.

The figure was compiled by the South China Morning Post with data gathered from six of the city's eight universities.

One member of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, said: "We have not been given relevant data about how many mainland students are finding homes outside campus. That 12,000 non-local students have entered the private market is a significant figure, impacting on the housing stock."

Even if those students co-rented flats in groups of two, it would still mean they are taking up 6,000 flats, Wong said.

The committee, chaired by the Housing Minister, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, was set up by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to map out a strategy for the next decade. It will decide how much housing is needed based on population changes and the needs of various income groups.

It has identified more than 20 "focus groups", but non-local students are not one of them.

I don't subscribe to the anti-mainland sentiments. We have to face the problem and assess the city's capacity, not just in milk powder and school places, but also in housing

According to Post data, more than 20,829 non-locals are studying at the six universities this year. Among them, 8,116 live in accommodation provided by the universities, while the remaining 12,713 students must find housing on their own. The University of Science and Technology and the Institution of Education have yet to provide figures.

Of the six, the University of Hong Kong has the most non-locals finding their own housing, at 6,003, followed by Chinese University with 3,000 and Polytechnic University at 2,219.

Wong, who is taking a master's degree in comparative history at Chinese University, said he knew of dozens of mainland students renting flats in locations along the MTR line, such as Tai Wai, Tai Po and Mong Kok.

It was important to address their situation, he said.

"I don't subscribe to the anti-mainland sentiments. We have to face the problem and assess the city's capacity, not just in milk powder and school places, but also in housing. In setting a provision target, we must get all the figures right."

Committee member Marco Wu Moon-hoi said it had not yet discussed the needs of the city's "mobile population".

"Time is running out, and I do hope the committee will talk about it and the consultants will do surveys to find out how many students and employees from the mainland, and from other parts of Asia, are entering the property market," he said.

Mainland students accounted for at least 80 per cent of all non-locals at the city's universities over the past three years. The Education Bureau said last month that it "had no plans to conduct surveys on the situation of students renting accommodation near campus and the relevant rent levels", in reply to a lawmaker's question.

This year there are 82,169 full-time students, local and overseas, at the eight universities but only 33,566 hostel places are available, according to the bureau.

Roy Choi, senior director of Centaline Property's Sha Tin division, said mainland students accounted for about 30 per cent of the rental deals in some Sha Tin private estates between May and September last year. "The students were willing to pay 5 or 10 per cent higher than the market level. They don't bargain," Choi said.



Related topics

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Please stop stigmatizing the issue with mainland again.
The issue here is there is an obvious lack of student residences. If a student university capacity is of 10k and they have only 3k of dorms, how and where do you expect them to live?
Two issues here.
1. 80% of the 20,000 are mainland students, do we have immigration policy to attract them to work here? Otherwise I would think this is wasting local resource to train for others that honestly I don't see any so called international value added to the local universities, or I doubt if we are getting international exposure for our local students either.
2. As I suggested earlier, we should consider moving most of the universities to a new University Town to free up space inside the city. Plus this new town could foster better collaboration amongst universities and creating biz such as R&D center, startups (hk has almost zero and no VC investment for locals vs the Valley, can also move science park there too) and services for these 100,000 students and staffs that could create jobs much better than places like TIn Shui Wai.
Student residence should be allocated to local students first, as their parents has paid taxes to subsidize them. Everyone in HK had indirectly subsidized these student hostel by "giving" that land free to the Universities. Therefore a "CAP" must be put on non-locals living in them, say "5%", and only admit them into the hostels for special reasons - such as their first year. Most universities in UK only cater for first year students in hostels.
12,000 = no more than 4,000 places. I am sure many live 3-4 students to an apartment or live with family member's within HK. government always likes to exaggerate numbers and then we always find out they were 1/3rd less.
International students, for example in HKU, pay a tuition fee almost 4 times that of local students. I'm quite sure that more than makes up for that tiny amount of taxes that may have gone to subsidize student housing.
What is most reasonable; that a hall place is given to someone whose familiy lives 30min by bus from the university, or to someone whose family lives 15 hours away by PLANE?
The whole issue of student housing becomes quite redicilous in Hong Kong as it is such a small place. In many countries are student halls important since families often live in a city far away. In Hong Kong, the most far away someone could possibly live is 1.5 hour away by public transport, which is nothing.
Do you know that over 60% of post-graduate places are given to mainlanders by default ? Do you know that even undergraduate places are also taken up by mainlanders. Local businessmen complained that Hong Kong cannot provide them with the needed qualified workforce, but we are turning away our own residents even at our own university because per Mainland student they can receive more money in tuition and other fees i.e. more income to the universities. My friends in the university witnessed all. For Doctoral study, if you are a local, the universities tell you at the face that you will not be employed, and they will only employ mainlanders who completed the PhD. Many of the mainland student are rich and can afford to pay a whole year's rent - but we are taking too much of them at the expense of locals.
No, just turn away the mainlanders and reserve the university places for locals.


SCMP.com Account