The head of Hong Kong's top education think-tank has warned against a rise in tuition fees during the economic downturn and in view of the huge budget deficit. Rosanna Wong Yick-ming, chairwoman of the Education Commission, told the South China Morning Post it was inappropriate to raise school fees when the economy was still in the doldrums. Ms Wong, who is making her debut as a Hong Kong delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, said there was only room for a review when the economy improved. This would depend on many factors such as the financial situation of universities. Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-chueng said in January that he was considering whether to raise tuition fees for students between Form Four and university levels. However, Mr Li later proposed to Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung that the fees should not be raised in the new financial year. Ms Wong said she was glad that education spending would be increased by 1.8 per cent in the next financial year. 'It indicates the government's determination to improve education quality although it faces a huge fiscal deficit,' she said. 'I hope the government will not slow down the pace of education reform because of the fiscal deficit. It has lived up to its promise to invest in education.' Ms Wong said the Education Commission still preferred six-year secondary schooling and an extension of undergraduate programmes from three to four years. In his policy address in 2001, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said he hoped the switch could be achieved within the next 10 years. 'The government may have some considerations about the financial implications of the switch. But I have no impression that the government has dropped the proposal,' she said.