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Hong Kong schools

‘Not exclusively for the rich’: Hong Kong school to keep fees at HK$20,000 after funding switch

Wah Yan College is pressing ahead with possible transition from aided to a direct subsidy scheme school

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 8:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 10:21pm

A fully government-funded Wan Chai school that is considering switching to semi-independent said it would keep student fees to HK$20,000 in order to avoid being labelled “exclusively for the rich and privileged”.

Wah Yan College last month announced it was considering a transition from a fully aided school to a direct subsidy scheme (DSS) school. The news prompted criticism from educators, who said the Jesuit school was going against its vision of raising students to have “a universal heart” for all people in society.

DSS schools receive government assistance and collect their own fees. But if the fees exceed two and one-third times the average unit cost of an aided school place, the government funding will cease. Aided schools, meanwhile, are fully government-funded and run by voluntary bodies.

On its website, Wah Yan College cited recommendations from the Jesuit Education Board and said it was pressing ahead oceeding with formal consultations on the possible switch.

“Through research and analysis, [the Jesuit Education Board] noted that times had changed and [Wah Yan College] is facing some unique challenges. The time is ripe for the school to seriously consider the possibility of joining DSS,” the school said.

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The school said the board had laid down some parameters regarding the possible transition, including charging fees of $20,000 or less per year in order to avoid being seen as “exclusively for the rich and privileged”.

In comparison, Diocesan Boys’ School in Mong Kok and St Paul’s Co-educational College in Mid-levels – both high-end DSS schools – charge students HK$45,900 and HK$55,000 per year respectively for the city’s Diploma of Secondary Education.

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“The school should be a place for both the poor and the rich to learn from each other and to grow together as brothers equally valuable in God’s eyes,” the Jesuit Education Board said at a meeting in January, according to the message on the website.

“Given the current situation at [the school], it should consider the feasibility of making use of the flexibility of the DSS to increase intake of less well-off students.”

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The school will conduct two rounds of consultation starting from April, which are expected to last at least six months.

Wah Yan College boasts a number of prestigious alumni, including former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and current Secretary of the Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung.