Hong Kong Institute of Education set to become city’s eighth publicly-funded university

Executive Council approves its university title and renames it the Education University of Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 January, 2016, 12:38am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 January, 2016, 4:54pm

The Hong Kong Institute of Education is set to become the city’s eighth publicly-funded university, after the Executive Council yesterday approved its university title and renamed it the Education University of Hong Kong.

The remaining challenge is for the school to gain support from the Legislative Council, where the proposed amendment to the Institute of Education Ordinance will be introduced on March 2.

The institute’s president Stephen Cheung Yan-leung said he was delighted and excited at reaching the milestone as it represented recognition.

“I won’t be able to sleep tonight,” he said. “I’m too happy.”

The institute’s latest application for university status was submitted in July 2014 following a failed attempt in 2009 when the University Grants Committee (UGC) said it was not appropriate to grant such status to an institution focusing on a single discipline. Since then, the institute has been granted funds to run non-education courses in areas such as social sciences and languages.

UGC chairman Carlson Tong said the committee had considered all relevant factors, including the institution’s vision, strategic direction, academic breadth, governance, academic standards, research accomplishments, staff and resources.

Cheung said he was confident the bill would gain support in Legco but said he would continue to lobby and communicate with lawmakers to see it through.

“I hope they will be generous and understanding. Our journey in attaining a university title has already taken us more than 10 years,” he said.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said he would not raise the issue of whether the city’s chief executive should be the chancellor of the university, as is the case with other universities, as it would drag on the legislative process.

Asked if the institute would amend the stipulations on chancellorship, Cheung replied that all of his attention was fixed on gaining formal status. “Other issues will have to be discussed and handled afterwards,” he said.

The bill will join 22 other bills in line for scrutiny by Legco, which has been plunged into a filibustering deadlock over the controversial copyright bill. If the amendment is approved by Legco by the end of its session, more than 3,000 upcoming graduates will see a university title on their certification.

Cheung said the school was also seeking legal advice to see if alumni could obtain certifications showing they are graduates of the university’s former body.

Final-year student Leung Ka-fu, 24, said the recognition would help students position themselves in the job market.