Taiwan-backed Chu Hai gains approval of Exco Taiwan-backed Chu Hai College has been given approval by the Executive Council to grant degrees and has been renamed Chu Hai Post Secondary College. Vice-president Kong Yau-pak said the new status would pave the way for the college to become a private university by about 2008. The college is already recognised in Taiwan as a private university. 'We have had 50 years of experience in the education field and hope to contribute to the government's goal of increasing private participation in higher education,' Professor Kong said. He was confident Chu Hai would become a private university in Hong Kong. It had approval from the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation to offer degree programmes from September. Seven of the 10 programmes on offer - journalism and communication, Chinese literature, accounting and banking, business administration, architecture, civil engineering and computer science - are now degree courses. Becoming a university would give the college self-accreditation status. It charges the same tuition fees as government-funded universities. Among the oldest private institutions in Hong Kong, Chu Hai, which was set up in 1947 in Guangzhou, moved to Hong Kong in 1949 and currently has 1,500 students. It is also negotiating with the government over a land grant to build a new campus, Professor Kong said. Veteran radio talk-show host Wong Yuk-man taught at the college's department of journalism and communication from 1979 to 1992. He was the head of the department when he left. He said the college's new status could improve students' choices and encourage more privately run institutions. The college's political connections - being funded by the Taiwanese authorities - prevented it from gaining recognition from the British government before the handover. It also had a poor relationship with the mainland, but this had improved since 1997.