Hong Kong needs to overcome key obstacles that prevent it from becoming an international education hub, according to Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung. Professor Li called for legislative changes to allow foreign students to work part-time, a move he said could help universities attract more international students to the city. Speaking at an event in Wan Chai on Wednesday, Professor Li said recruiting more international students would benefit the city's educational, cultural and economic development. Local students would also gain from their overseas counterparts. But he said several challenges stood in the way of Hong Kong developing itself as a regional centre for education, including a lack of space for expanding campuses and building accommodation. 'Insufficient accommodation facilities are the biggest obstacle universities are currently facing in recruiting non-local students. If this problem cannot be resolved, it will greatly reduce the attractiveness of Hong Kong institutions,' he said. Universities hoped the government would increase the quota for international students and relax the working restrictions to enable them to take part-time jobs. 'Many countries overseas, such as Britain, Australia and others, allow non-local students to work part time. But Hong Kong immigration regulations clearly state foreign students are not allowed to take up employment,' he said. Foreign students were only permitted to complete short-term internships related to their study after receiving approval from the Immigration Department, he added. 'Shouldn't we discuss whether it is now the right time to consider relaxing these immigration-related restrictions?' he said. Professor Li added that the government had been encouraging more overseas students to come to Hong Kong by increasing the intake at local universities from 2 per cent of the undergraduate population in 1993 to 10 per cent last year. Henry Wai Wing-kun, registrar of University of Hong Kong, welcomed Professor Li's comments. He said relaxing work restrictions would play a part in attracting more foreign students.