Major review on tertiary schooling

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 March, 1993, 12:00am

THE University and Polytechnic Grants Committee will conduct a major review on the development of tertiary education to determine if further expansion would be needed beyond next year.

The Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr John Chan Cho-chak, said yesterday the Government was meeting the target to provide first-year first-degree courses to 18 per cent of the relevant age group by 1994/95.

The target was laid down by the former governor, Lord Wilson, in 1989 when only seven per cent of the age group could have tertiary education in Hongkong.

''The committee is undertaking a review on our tertiary education and will advise on further development in the post-1994 period,'' Mr Chan said.

In the coming financial year, the Government will increase the funding on tertiary education by $772 million to $6.64 billion.

Out of the increase, $650 million is to meet the growth in student numbers in accordance with the expansion programme, while $31 million is for academic research.

Mr Chan said the first-year first-degree places would be increased from 11,000 this year to 12,500 in the 1993/94 academic year.

As a result, the total full-time equivalent student population in the institutions will go up from 48,800 to 52,400.

''I think as of now there is no indication that we are heading towards an over-supply [of university graduates] situation even though some of our earlier manpower projections seem to suggest that based on various assumptions, come early 2000 there may bea small surplus of degree holders,'' Mr Chan said.

He admitted that mismatches between the number of first-year first-degree places and the number of matriculates in the past two years had lowered the entry qualification in tertiary institutions.

But he said the situation would be better this year with improvements made in the sixth form education such as an increase in the number of places and the enrolment system.

In explaining the expenditure proposals yesterday, Mr Chan said the Government would spend $20.24 billion on the education programme in the next financial year. He said it represented a real increase of $1.4 billion or 7.3 per cent over the revised estimates for 1992/93.

''By itself, education remains the largest single component of the Government's budget - 20.8 per cent in terms of recurrent expenditure and 16.2 per cent in terms of total public expenditure,'' Mr Chan said.

Out of the total funding for the education programme, $12.89 billion was for the school education. The amount represents an increase of $599 million over the figure for 1992/93.

The increase will be mainly for operation of additional sixth form places, provision of additional teachers to bi-sessional primary schools and reduction of class size in primary one.

On the employment programme, the Budget is $645 million, which is roughly the same as last year.

Mr Chan said additional funding of $3.5 million would be allocated to the Labour Department for extra staff to cope with industrial safety work arising from the Airport Core Programme.

The funding will be used to employ 13 more factory inspectors, to provide training courses for workers, to help contractors organise safety committees at construction sites and to promote work safety.