An international boarding school for at least 1,200 students is planned for Tuen Mun with land and - if necessary - financial help from the government. A Legislative Council brief distributed yesterday outlines a plan, approved by the Executive Council and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on December 16, to assist in the development of the school through a land grant and interest-free loans. The move is part of a plan, outlined in Mr Tsang's 2007-08 policy address, to build the city's reputation as a regional education powerhouse. The proposed new school would cater to a minimum of 1,200 students, at least 50 per cent of whom should be from outside Hong Kong. It would be built on former military land in Castle Peak Road, So Kwun Wat. In a policy shift, the government will also support the development of boarding facilities on the grounds of already established international, private and Direct Subsidy Scheme schools, the paper says. This does not apply to public-sector schools because they are needed to cope with demand from Hong Kong students. The Tuen Mun site is one of four undeveloped potential sites for international schools for which the government sought expressions of interest in March. An Education Bureau spokeswoman said it was hoped a decision on who would operate the school would be made by the middle of next year. 'We will invite in the next few days the interested organisations to submit formal applications and detailed school proposals for consideration and vetting by the School Allocation Committee ... which will make a recommendation to the Education Bureau,' she said. The successful organisation will be granted the land for a nominal premium for 10 years and will, if needed, be offered an interest-free loan to help pay for the building. Legco education panel member Lee Cheuk-yan said that while the plan had yet to be discussed, the lack of boarding facilities in the city had been a matter of concern. 'We welcome the government moving to meet this demand,' said Mr Lee, representative for New Territories West. 'There may also be demand from China now - they already account for about 10 per cent of our university places. I think it will encourage parents to think about sending their children from the mainland to secondary school in Hong Kong to prepare for university. 'There is definitely an opportunity for Hong Kong to develop as an education hub for the region and as a springboard for mainland students.' Fellow New Territories West lawmaker and panel member Leung Yiu-chung said it was important that local students were also catered for. 'Some of these local students really need to be independent of their parents,' he said. 'Some of them can be quite spoiled, and once they are in the boarding experience, it will teach them to be more independent.'