The blame for an enrolment fiasco at two of Lingnan University's colleges which saw 5,800 places given to 8,000 students was laid at the feet of one of its associate vice-presidents yesterday.
Although the report from the investigation panel set up by the Tuen Mun university failed to name names, it was clear that the man being held primarily responsible for the scandal at the Community College of Lingnan University (CCLU) and Lingnan Institute of Further Education (LIFE) was Chan Tsang-sing.
The fiasco emerged last October when students reported that they were having to stand in class as there were not enough seats, and one claimed the teacherstudent ratio in her class was one to 200.
Three other senior staff at the non-degree community colleges were also held accountable, and again, although he was not mentioned by name, it was clear particular censure was targeted at the Dean of the Community College and Further Education Edward Fung Pui-wing. He handed in his resignation last year and will leave at the end of this month.
A university spokeswoman said in a statement yesterday: "The Council expressed its deepest regret over the fact that the associate vice-president failed to establish sufficient management control measures."
The report made clear it was Fung "who gave direct instruction to staff to admit as many applicants as possible".
He also lowered admission requirements and cancelled student interviews. The report found that enrolment was started for some courses that had not yet attained official accreditation.
"It's unfortunate that [Mr Fung] caused such a grave crisis for the university and its subsidiaries because the overall perception of the university and its students have been affected," Bernard Chan, chairman of the university council, said at a press conference yesterday.
Fung may have thought he had to "dress up the accounts" as there had been some calls to separate the operations of community colleges from affiliated universities, added Chan, although he stressed there was no sign that he had been put under any pressure to do so.
Chan Tsang-sing was saddled with the ultimate responsibility as he had oversight over the colleges on behalf of the university, according to the panel.
University president Chan Yuk-shee, who also resigned amid the controversy, vowed that all the students who were admitted would have the same academic opportunities. Substandard students, he added, would be asked to take remedial classes.
But student Chao Suet-ying, a leading critic of the university's handling of the matter, warned that competition was going to be tough when students came to compete for places at Lingnan University in a few years' time.
Chan Tsang-sing and Fung could not be reached for comment.