Thousands of local students and academics will have more opportunities to study at top mainland universities after authorities signed a letter of intent to boost collaboration between Hong Kong and mainland institutions.
Education vice-minister Hao Ping said the central government would set up a special fund in 2013 that would subsidise 2,000 Hong Kong students and academics to pursue studies and research on the mainland each year. It will also subsidise 7,000 students and academics to take part in summer exchange and visit programmes each year.
Representatives of 17 Hong Kong higher education institutions and 17 mainland universities signed the letter of intent yesterday, including the eight government-funded universities in Hong Kong together with Peking University, Tsinghua University, Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and University of Science and Technology of China.
'We believe the signing will take the close ties between the mainland and Hong Kong to a new level of development,' said Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung, who attended the ceremony.
The programme is part of Beijing's package of 'gifts' to Hong Kong to mark the 15th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule.
It also complements an ongoing University of Hong Kong programme in which the central government subsidises studies, exchanges and scientific research of 1,000 HKU students and academic staff on the mainland each year. The programme, launched in April, was announced by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang when he visited the HKU campus last year.
Undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as teaching staff with powers to award bachelor's degrees or above can participate in the exchange activities, with priority given to local students, the letter of intent said.
HKU spokeswoman Trinni Choy said the university welcomed the move and expected further co-operation with mainland universities, but it had yet to be informed on the details of the co-operation.
There are now more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 3,300 postgraduate students from mainland China studying in the university.
Combined number of universities and higher education institutions in Hong Kong and the mainland involved in co-operation programme