As pool of DSE takers shrink, self-financing tertiary institutions must also attract students from elsewhere
- To start, the government can help by removing curbs to let more such institutions enrol more mainland students
- It can also help finance new programmes to teach skills sought-after throughout the Greater Bay Area
The situation is expected to worsen due to two main factors.
To foster the sustainable development of self-financing tertiary education in Hong Kong, the government should look beyond the local population to attract more students from elsewhere, especially the mainland.
The government should work with the mainland authorities to relax restrictions on mainland students’ admission to Hong Kong’s self-financing tertiary institutions.
Under current policy, only six such institutions may admit students from the mainland, limited to 10 per cent of their total student body. Raising the limit to 20 per cent or higher and allowing more institutions on the list would expand the potential student source and introduce more flexibility to the recruitment strategies of the tertiary institutions.
Hi-tech manufacturing firms in Shenzhen and Guangzhou may need talent in areas of mechanical design or product development. Tertiary institutions can leverage their international reputation and quality to draw students from mainland cities.
More financial help should be given to tertiary institutions and students, for institutions to offer programmes that are more attractive to prospective applicants and more in line with the demands of the market.
Recently, the government has started to provide financial support for tertiary institutions to develop programmes that “meet market needs but require high start-up costs”, including those related to physiotherapy and medical science. This policy is commendable and should be expanded.
Self-financing institutions may lack the capital to develop programmes requiring laboratories and other costly facilities, so financial support can help them develop specialised and in-demand courses, rather than programmes that train more general skills such as business and management.
The self-financing tertiary education sector will continue to face a shortage of students. The government should take prompt action to enable these institutions to diversify their source of students, while ensuring that their programmes maintain a high quality and suit the needs of both the students and the job market.
Justin Chan is a researcher at MWYO, an independent think tank that focuses on youth issues in Hong Kong