The University of Hong Kong should become more international by lifting the cap on the number of mainland and overseas students, the new chairman of the university council, Dr Leong Che-hung, says. Leong, who succeeded Dr Victor Fung Kwok-king three weeks ago, said one of the missions of his three-year term was to make it one of the world's top 10 universities. The university's plan to expand into Shenzhen - including a new campus and a public hospital - would make it more competitive and overcome space constraints at its campus in Pok Fu Lam, he said. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said in his policy speech in October that the government wanted to internationalise the education system, and would further relax the rules for overseas students. 'We want to see the ceiling relaxed or even lifted so we can freely admit overseas students,' Leong, an executive councillor and former legislator, said. 'It won't affect our resources for local students because the overseas students have to bear the cost. 'Having more overseas students here would help our local students develop a global perspective and mix with different cultures.' No cap is set for overseas students in postgraduate courses. HKU's overseas undergraduate-student ratio is capped at 20 per cent, with only 4 per cent receiving government funding. But it cannot meet even that cap, mainly due to a lack of student quarters, and its overseas and mainland undergraduates account for only about 12 per cent of total admissions. Leong said the university's celebration of its centenary in 2011 would help consolidate support from alumni. But even the Centennial Campus, to be completed in 2012, would be too small to meet the rising demand for student accommodation and teaching space. He said one possible solution was to turn vacant factories into student accommodation. In October, the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings rated HKU the 24th-best university in the world. It came second in Asia, behind the 22nd-ranked University of Tokyo. HKU's highest position was 18th, in 2007. 'I would like to see HKU among the top 10,' Leong said. He added that he thought that internationalising would attract good students and teaching staff. The university has no plan to go completely private. But it will consider setting up a private wing to provide bridging degree courses for diploma holders or sub-degree graduates, such as graduates from its school of professional and continuing education. Amid rising demand for space and research resources, the university has endorsed a blueprint to expand in Shenzhen with a new campus and a research centre in the border city. Leong said the university's campus in Pok Fu Lam was 'rather small' when compared with some newer institutions. 'Recently I visited the medical faculty's state key laboratory and was rather shocked to find out that it was so small,' he said. 'We definitely need more space, and it is difficult to find land in Hong Kong.' Leong said the new Shenzhen campus would be just 'an extension' of the Pok Fu Lam campus, not a new school. 'We will consider moving some of our faculties there and some students may have to travel to Shenzhen for classes. 'Of course, all the details needed to be carefully considered.' Leong said having a new research centre in Shenzhen would help the university tap into the mainland's more generous research grants. On Monday, the university and the Shenzhen authorities signed a memorandum of understanding for the planning of the 2,000-bed Binhai Hospital. It will be Shenzhen's biggest public hospital and a second teaching hospital for HKU. Leong said the hospital, which would open in 2011, would be a showcase for health care reform on the mainland. 'It will be a win-win-win situation for Hong Kong, Shenzhen and the whole country,' he said. 'Our staff can see private cases there, and will be subject to the same monitoring as if they are in Hong Kong.' Leong said Queen Mary Hospital, the university's teaching hospital in Pok Fu Lam, was too small and the variety of patient cases too narrow to teach medical students. After graduating from HKU in 1962, Leong taught in the department of surgery from 1964 to 1978. He has pledged to hold regular meetings involving staff, students and his council members. From 2012, the university will provide four-year undergraduate programmes, following reforms to the academic structure for secondary education and higher education. An extra 200 teaching staff will be needed for the increasing number of students.