Face Off: should HK build more universities?

Compiled by Ben Young

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week...

Compiled by Ben Young |
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The University of Science and Technology is only one of the world-class institutions in Hong Kong.

Eunice Yip, 17, Pooi To Middle School

Of course, yes! Having more universities would be great for Hong Kong. Tertiary institutes are different from secondary schools. They provide life experiences and help students prepare for their futures.

As we all know, there’s intense competition to get into a local university. By building more universities and expanding the number of degree courses, hundreds more would get a chance to further their education and improve their living standards.

These days, many companies are looking for people with a university degree. If you want to be a teacher, reporter, or even a junior office worker, you need a higher education qualification. Without one, young people can find themselves cut off from the majority of higher-paid jobs, which can make earning a living very difficult in our increasingly expensive city. A degree can make it much easier for young people to be self-sufficient and carve out a good career.

Another major factor is that universities in Hong Kong claimed top spots in the 2018 QS World University Ranking; the University of Hong Kong was ranked 26th in the world, the University of Science and Technology was 30th, Chinese University was 46th, and City University was 49th. This shows that Hong Kong is a highly competitive city.

The government should therefore take advantage of this and do more to attract students from overseas. Hong Kong has the potential to become a leading centre for education and academic research in Asia. So it needs more universities.

Christy Kwok, 17, Sha Tin College

There are already 13 higher education institutions in Hong Kong – the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University, and Polytechnic University, to name a few – so there is absolutely no need to build any more universities.

As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, there is very little space to build yet another tertiary institute here. The limited amount of land we have should be set aside for more useful projects that benefit the community, or which promote green living in Hong Kong. Any proposal to set up more universities is not only impractical, but unsustainable, too.

What’s more, it would be very hard for new universities to compete with Hong Kong’s existing ones. They already provide world-class education, and people might worry about the quality of education at new universities, which makes it very difficult to predict whether they would be a failure or success. It would much be much better to increase funding to the existing higher education institutions, so that they would be able to offer more places for both local and foreign students. Even then, many students would prefer to study abroad.

The existing universities in Hong Kong are good enough in terms of quality teaching and research. Building more universities simply isn’t a priority. That land could be used to build public housing for the city’s low-income earners.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

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