Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) will be the first local university to offer a government-funded bachelor’s degree in aviation management from next year, helping to fill in an educational void in Hong Kong. PolyU has been approved to offer a Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons) in Aviation Management and Logistics commencing September 2017. The programme will launch as a non-Jupas, two-year top-up programme for higher diploma and associate degree holders, and may evolve into a four-year degree for secondary school leavers in the future. Despite Hong Kong’s status as an international air transport hub, no local universities currently offer undergraduate degrees in aviation management. Aviation engineering degrees are currently only available at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and PolyU. Achim Czerny, associate professor at PolyU’s Department of Maritime and Logistics, will head the newly-announced aviation management programme. “When people think of aviation education, they may not be thinking about Hong Kong at first. I do believe more should be done and more can be done,” he said. “All the people we talked to in the industry said there is a strong need for more aviation managers ... and we have already received a lot of interest for more aviation courses from students. We believe we will have no difficulties filling the 40 places in the first batch.” PolyU’s announcement is expected to be welcome news for the city’s aspiring aviation professionals with some Hong Kong youngsters resorting to expensive alternatives in Australia, Canada or the UK. Jason Middleton, head of the School of Aviation at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told the Post that Hong Kong has been the biggest source of foreign students for the school. The fees for international students at the Australian school are as high as AUD$39,360 (HK$231,490) per year, in addition to a one-time AUD$138,000 (HK$811,628) fee for those in the flying stream. Middleton said however, that mainland student enrolment increased in recent years. PolyU’s announcement comes after the Hong Kong government announced in January that the Airport Authority is working to establish a Civil Aviation Academy. The aviation academy will be aimed at strengthening local and regional aviation management talent and hopes to “develop Hong Kong into a centre for aerospace financing”. The Airport Authority told the Post that the format and scope of the academy is still being considered with details and timelines yet to be made public. In a statement made in January, the Airport Authority said it would develop the training scope, curriculum and operational details of the proposed academy by the end of the year. Sources said the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Academy is expected to offer short-term vocational training to people already in the industry and would not function as an educational institution those in mainland China, such as Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics or Shenyang Aerospace University. Law Cheung-kwok, Director of Policy at the Aviation Policy and Research Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said there is limited access to aviation-related careers for young people in the city. “Young people in Hong Kong have few educational pathways into the aviation industry. More aviation degrees at local universities are urgently needed,” he said. He said Hong Kong’s proposed Civil Aviation Academy does not have to do the job of universities, but it should conduct in-depth research into the city’s future aviation labour demands and come up with solutions.