The Hong Kong Institute of Education has no option but to become a university of education, its president said yesterday. Anthony Cheung Bing-leung was speaking after a media report leaked recommendations by the University Grants Committee's review group on the HKIEd's development blueprint. The report said the HKIEd, a teacher-training institute, was unlikely to qualify for a university title and that it should instead consider merging with other universities or provide multi-disciplinary studies. Professor Cheung, who is also a member of the Executive Council, said he would not comment or speculate on the situation without the details of the UGC review report. However, he said the government would decide on whether the institute would qualify for university status and that the UGC group was only there to make a recommendation. 'There is no turning back for us. [Merging with another university] is a very complicated issue which has resulted in many conflicts during past discussions,' Professor Cheung said. 'The only one path for us is to develop ourselves into an education university. No matter what the UGC review report will say, [becoming an education university] is our only option, and the only preferred option'. The institute submitted its blueprint and application for a university title to the government in June 2007. The government then appointed the UGC to review the plan and to provide recommendations on the institute's quest for university status. In February 2007, an inquiry was launched into allegations that former education chief Arthur Li Kwok-cheung had attempted to force the teacher-training institute in Tai Po to merge with Chinese University. Professor Cheung said he expected to meet representatives of the government soon to negotiate details of expanding the institute's disciplinary structure. 'All of HKIEd's students and teachers have stood firm and rejected merging with other universities,' he said. He said the HKIEd had been expanding its horizons on teacher education by designing a multi-disciplinary academic structure. The institute had also been putting together one of the largest collections of education experts in Asia under an 'education-plus' concept, as laid out in the development blueprint, he said. A UGC spokesman refused to comment on the leaked report but said the panel was finalising its review and hoped to submit it to the government as soon as possible. A spokeswoman for the Education Bureau said the government had not received the UGC's report.