The University of Hong Kong has set up a new liberal education college to offer self-financed degree programmes that will cost local students up to HK$92,000 a year.
The privately funded Centennial College will be among the city's most expensive. But Linus Cheung Wing-lam, chairman of the board of governors, said its tuition fees were competitive against overseas institutions. Touting the college as a good-quality option, Cheung said parents often had to pay much more to send their children overseas.
He expected an uphill battle to seek the best students and teachers, given that the two degree programmes it would offer at the start charged up to twice same-standard courses provided by government-subsidised universities, where, he said, the fees were too low.
Annual tuition fees for degree programmes at government-funded universities are about HK$42,000.
'The students we select may not be the best ones at the beginning,' he said, 'but it doesn't mean they can't be more successful than students of HKU or the University of Science and Technology.'
Centennial College opens in September on the Pok Fu Lam campus of HKU. It will take in 700 to 800 students in all for its two four-year bachelor degree courses, in arts and accounting. Annual tuition fees for secondary school graduates are HK$82,000, while subdegree holders, who can enter the college at the third year, pay HK$92,000. A college spokesmen said charges for overseas students had not been determined.
Cheung said the college management had tried to lower the costs, but it had to balance teaching standards with affordability.
The college is bidding for a site in Chai Wan to expand its range of courses and its enrolment. It vowed to become Asia's Stanford University.
Only 18 per cent of Hongkongers are graduates or undergraduates. About 30 per cent of the population above 15 years old received education only up to primary or had none.
HKU Vice-Chancellor Tsui Lap-chee said the college could provide an alternative route for students and highlighted the city's bid to expand its education sector.
But he said there was heated debate within the university management on the need for another HKU-affiliated tertiary institution. 'I also hope that HKU and Centennial College will not be competing for the same group of potential students.'
The college is financially independent from HKU, which is subsidised by the government. College officials said the funding it had received could sustain it for several years.
Total loan and donation the college has received, in HK dollars, from HKU Space, another post-secondary institution affiliated with HKU