The institution is seeking a bigger campus and more students from outside Hong Kong A local university is drafting a $1 billion development plan aimed at turning it into a leading educational institution in the region. Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) vice-chancellor Ambrose King Yeo-chee revealed the plan yesterday, as he announced a series of activities in the next few months to mark the university's 40th anniversary. He said the project would involve expansion of the campus and improvements to school facilities during the next decade, funded mostly by private money. Professor King reiterated CUHK's aspiration to be a 'great university in Asia' and expressed support for a merger with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology - an idea first proposed by education chief Arthur Li Kwok-cheung last year. Professor King, who will retire by the end of 2003, said the university had identified several prospective successors, but he declined to identify them. He said CUHK was aiming to produce 60,000 graduates in the next decade. The university's student population is expected to increase as a result of the introduction of four-year university education and more academic programmes. CUHK is also seeking to raise its non-local student size, according to Professor King. Currently, tertiary institutions must cap the number of their non-Hong Kong students to only 4 per cent of their total first-year student intake. Professor King said the university had asked the government to raise this ceiling to 8 per cent, hopefully from next year. 'Universities in Hong Kong, a world-class city in Asia, should have a wider student mix,' Professor King said. 'Having more students from outside can also stimulate local students' thinking and enhance the learning environment. 'In a globalised world, there is a need for universities to have diverse staff and students, so that the students can have a broader vision and will not be uncomfortable when working in a different culture after they have graduated.'' He expects most of the non-local students to be from the mainland. The university received more than 1,000 applications from mainland students for 73 degree places this year, under a joint recruitment drive with other institutions in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong. The mainland students pay the same fees as their local counterparts. CUHK has now 700 mainland students - both postgraduates and undergraduates - who are on scholarships. Professor King said future non-local students who entered under the expanded quota might have to pay a higher fee, to avoid adding to the government's financial burden. But he hoped there would not be a huge difference in fees paid by new non-local students and their Hong Kong counterparts. He said more discussions with the government were needed on the fee issue. CUHK's 40th anniversary celebrations will kick off this Friday with a lecture series by Harvard-based mathematician Yau Shing-tung. Pro-vice-chancellor Kenneth Young said the university was expecting 10,000 people at a campus carnival on Sunday. The fair will be on until next Friday. Other activities include symposiums and lectures by leading academics. The university will also launch a Quality of Life index for Hong Kong in the middle of November, offering indications on how well the city is doing in diverse areas such as healthcare quality, anti-pollution and the protection of freedom of speech. The index will be updated regularly.