Eighty Baptist University students braved heavy rains yesterday to stage a protest in the courtyard of a vacant building as part of a campaign to persuade the government to convert it into dormitories.
The Baptist University student union, which organised the event with support from the university, said converting the former Lee Wai Lee Technical Institute building in Kowloon Tong was necessary because the existing number of dorm spaces was inadequate.
Student union leader Wong Hok-kan said: 'We cannot tolerate this any more. If the government does not respond, we won't rule out further action. Dorms are important for fostering students' loyalty to the school. We need them.'
The university currently has 1,711 dormitory spaces and is slated to add 150 more.
But the University Grants Committee said in April that it expected the shortfall in dorm spaces at the university to be 1,300 for the 2014-15 academic year.
The union said it had written to the Education Bureau asking the Secretary for Education, Michael Suen Ming-yeung, to visit the university to better understand the situation, but with no success.
The bureau said it understood the hopes of the university's students over the development of dorm spaces. The bureau and the committee have been supporting development plans for university dorms to meet the additional needs of the new education system, a bureau spokesman said.
'The bureau and the [committee] will continue to co-operate with institutions to search for locations and develop new dormitories, including considering the suggestion of Baptist University students regarding the Lee Wai Lee Technical Institute campus,' he said.
Universities will extend the lengths of courses to four years from the current three starting from the 2012 academic year.
The former home of the Lee Wai Lee Technical Institute in Kowloon Tong is close to the Baptist University's existing buildings. The institute moved to Tseung Kwan O in 2010 and has been renamed IVE Lee Wai Lee.
Wong said the government's offers of locations in Wu Kai Sha and Tseung Kwan O to house students were not enough, as these were far away and would mean long travel times.
Chan Chi-hei, head of the CL Soong Hall at the university, said: 'What is the point of giving us these places? Why don't we just live at home if our only option is a place so far away?'
The shortfall in dormitory spaces predicted by the University Grants Committee at Baptist University for the year 2014-15