LCQ22: Tuition fees of self-financing programmes offered by self-financing post-secondary institutions


Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      Following is a question by the Hon Ip Kin-yuen and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (January 10):

Question:

     The Education Bureau (EDB) has put in place a mechanism to monitor the annual rates of increase in tuition fees of the self-financing undergraduate programmes under the following two subsidy schemes: the Non-means-tested Subsidy Scheme for Self-financing Undergraduate Studies in Hong Kong (Subsidy Scheme 1) and the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors (Subsidy Scheme 2). Where a rate of increase in tuition fee higher than that of the Composite Consumer Price Index (above-inflation tuition fee) is proposed, the institution concerned is required to provide full justifications to EDB and obtain its prior approval. It has been reported that rates of increase in the next academic year's tuition fees as high as 19 per cent have been proposed for some of the programmes which are subject to monitoring by the mechanism. Regarding the tuition fees of the self-financing associate degree programmes, self-financing undergraduate programmes and self-financing top-up degree programmes offered by self-financing post-secondary institutions, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows, among the aforesaid three types of programmes, those programmes for which above-inflation tuition fees were charged in any one year from the 2014-2015 to 2017-2018 academic years, or will be/are planned to be charged for the next academic year, by the self-financing post-secondary institutions concerned, and set out in a table, in the order of the three types of programmes and by nameof institution, the following information on each programme -
(i) programme title,
(ii) tuition fee for the academic year concerned and its rate of increase,
(iii) whether it was/is a programme under Subsidy Scheme 1,
(iv) whether it was/is a programme under Subsidy Scheme 2, and
(v) (if it was/is a programme under Subsidy Scheme 1 or 2 and an application for charging an above-inflation tuition fee for it was approved by the EDB) the justifications for the EDB giving the approval;

(2) of the factors currently taken into account by the EDB when vetting and approving applications for charging above-inflation tuition fees, and whether such factors include the affordability for students and the fiscal surplus of the institutions concerned; and

(3) in respect of the tuition fees of the programmes under Subsidy Scheme 1 or 2 in each of the academic years from 2014/15 to 2018/19, of the number of applications for charging above-inflation tuition fees received by the EDB and, among them, the number and percentage of applications approved (set out in a table)?

Reply:

President,

     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Ip Kin-yuen is as follows.

     The Education Bureau (EDB) has put in place a mechanism to monitor the annual rates of increase in tuition fee of programmes covered by the Non-means-tested Subsidy Scheme for Self-financing Undergraduate Studies in Hong Kong (Subsidy Scheme 1) and the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors (Subsidy Scheme 2).

     The above-mentioned schemes cover self-financing degree programmes and top-up degree programmes. As self-financing associate degree programmes do not fall within the scope of subsidy under the two schemes, the tuition fee adjustment for such programmes is a matter determined by the institutions concerned.

(1) Subsidy Scheme 1 was launched in the 2017/18 academic year, covering 119 self-financing degree programmes and 248 self-financing top-up degree programmes offered by 15 institutions.  Among them, the rate of tuition fee increase for the 2018/19 academic year as compared to that of the previous academic year for 30 degree programmes and 82 top-up degree programmes is beyond inflation. The relevant information on these programmes is set out at Annex 1.

     Subsidy Scheme 2 was launched in the 2015/16 academic year.

In the 2015/16 academic year, five institutions provided a total of 13 subsidised programmes, the rate of tuition fee increase as compared to that of the previous academic year for five of the programmes was beyond inflation. In the 2016/17 academic year, six institutions provided a total of 15 subsidised programmes, the rate of tuition fee increase for two of the programmes was beyond inflation. In the 2017/18 academic year, six institutions provided a total of 17 subsidised programmes and the rate of tuition fee increase for nine of the programmes was beyond inflation.

In the 2018/19 academic year, six institutions will provide a total of 37 subsidised programmes and the rate of tuition fee increase for 16 of the programmes is beyond inflation. The relevant information on these programmes is set out at Annex 2.

     The justifications for the above-inflation tuition fee increase in respect of the subsidised programmes covered by Subsidy Schemes 1 and 2 as approved by EDB are at Annex 3.

(2) When setting the tuition fee levels for self-financing programmes, most institutions plan on the basis of a balanced budget and adopt a prudent approach, taking into account a basket of factors including planned enrolment, similar programmes offered in the community, and affordability of the target group.

     The EDB requests institutions participating in the Subsidy Schemes 1 and 2 to provide the total tuition fees per cohort for each eligible programme to the EDB for consideration, with a view to monitoring the annual increase in tuition fee of eligible programmes.

     Participating institutions can adjust the tuition fee at a rate not exceeding the price movement in the Composite Consumer Price Index (CCPI). For exceptional circumstances, the participating institutions must obtain prior approval from the EDB. For exceptional cases where the tuition fee increase exceeds the CCPI, the participating institutions must provide full justifications to the EDB to demonstrate that the extra income derived from tuition fee increase will be used to support the necessary enhancement in teaching and learning for the concerned programmes.

     In vetting the applications for tuition fee increase, the EDB will fully consider various factors, including whether the increase in tuition fee will be used to enhance teaching quality of the subsidised programmes, and whether the additional expenditure to be incurred is reasonable and appropriate etc.

We will request the participating institutions to report on the implementation of the enhancement measures with a view to ensuring that the additional income derived from tuition fee increase is actually deployed to support the relevant measures.

(3) The participating institutions understand that the tuition fee should be maintained at a reasonable level. In the past four years, the tuition fee of 144 programmes covered by Subsidy Schemes 1 and 2 has been increased beyond inflation, accounting for 32 per cent of all the subsidised programmes. The annual number of applications for above-inflation tuition fee increase for the subsidised programmes covered by Subsidy Schemes 1 and 2, the number of applications approved by the EDB and its percentage is at Annex 4.



Published on: 2018-01-10

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