A continuing lack of student dormitories is one of the greatest regrets felt by the outgoing Open University president John Leong Chi-yan.
Yet the situation is unlikely to change any time soon, Leong warned yesterday, during a farewell gathering.
"The government didn't respond to our requests actively," said Leong, who became the university's president in 2003. "There's a lack of thousands of dormitory places in the eight government-funded universities and the government hasn't been able to deal with those, let alone [deal with self-financed universities such as ours], although our university was founded by the government."
Recalling his own time studying at the medical school of the University of Hong Kong, when he lived in a castle-turned dormitory, Leong said dormitories provided students with freedom and social life.
Leong, who is to become the new Hospital Authority chairman, suggested that the government could build dormitories for universities to share and thereby cut down on land use.
He also commented on the university's application for nearby open land on Fat Kwong Street to be rezoned for educational use, so it could provide classrooms and other facilities.
He said although the plot was not big, it was vital for the university, which had about 7,000 full-time students but only three buildings.
Leong also hoped the government could communicate more with China's Ministry of Education to simplify procedures for Hong Kong universities to open mainland branches or co-operate with mainland universities.
Leong felt one of his biggest achievements was turning the university from being focused on distance-learning to being a "multi-mode" university incorporating online teaching and full-time face-to-face education.
"I feel I'm leaving at the proper time," said Leong, who will be replaced by National People's Congress deputy Wong Yuk-shan in April. "A university should always welcome new talents with new ways of thinking."