The Executive Council has approved the awarding of the title of university to the Hong Kong Institute of Education, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.
HKIEd which will be renamed the Education University of Hong Kong, will become the city’s eighth subsidized university.
The Hong Kong Institute of Education (Amendment) Bill 2016, which gives effect to the change in title, will be gazetted Feb. 19 and introduced to the Legislative Council March 2.
HKIEd president Stephen Cheung Yan-leung said the milestone is a long-awaited one.
The institute first sought the status of university in 2007, but its application was rejected in 2009.
HKIEd submitted a second application in 2014 with the addition of several undergraduate courses, such as language studies, and obtained the approval of the University Grants Commission last year.
The Executive Council also awarded self-accrediting status to HKIEd for three program areas covered by its existing Program Area Accreditation (PAA) status: Chinese studies, English studies and environmental studies.
Cheung said the award of the title of university recognizes the hard work put in by the teaching and student body, as well as the institute’s management, over the years.
He emphasized that this is not an upgrade, but rather a name change, saying the institute has been operating as a university in every sense but its name.
Franky Leung Ho-ching, president of the HKIEd Students’ Union, said employers tend to consider graduates from HKIEd not as good as those from other universities and sometimes cast doubt on the quality of the institute and its students.
Leung said this is especially obvious when it comes to teaching posts in secondary and primary schools.
He said he hopes the award of university status will help boost the employment rate of graduates, as well as their salary and perks.
Commenting on a proposal to abolish the rule that Hong Kong’s chief executive is automatically the chancellor of all local universities, Leung said HKIEd students have agreed with the institute’s management to focus on carrying out the change in its title before engaging in discussions on other issues.
Former students’ union president Victor Au Kin-ho said the reform of the institute’s governing council is just as important and pressing an issue as the change of its name.
During the 2006/2007 academic year, then Education Bureau chief Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, who is now the chairman of the University of Hong Kong’s governing council, proposed that HKIEd be merged with the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Rumors have it that the contract of then HKIEd president Paul Morris wasn’t renewed in 2007 because he was opposed to Li’s idea.
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