China students at 8 self-financing HK institutes face trouble

November 05, 2015 11:58
Some self-financing higher education institutions in Hong Kong are facing questions over their enrolment of mainland students. Photo: HK government

Mainland students pursuing post-secondary education at eight self-financing Hong Kong institutions could see their degrees not have much value in the job market once the pupils complete their studies.

That is because the degrees offered by those institutions may not receive official recognition in the mainland, according to an Apple Daily report. 

On Oct. 23, the Education Bureau is said to have sent letters to 20 self-financing higher education institutions that have enrolled mainland students for bachelor and master's degree programs.

In that letter, authorities are said to have pointed out that under a memorandum signed in 2004 between Hong Kong and China, only 12 self-financing institutions in Hong Kong can take in mainland students for the programs.

It means that eight institutions have been violating rules by taking mainland students.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised as to why the Education Bureau has failed to alert the students earlier.

For no fault of theirs, the students have been put in a difficult situation.

Apple Daily cited a source as saying that the Education Bureau has no plan to ask the affected students to drop out of school and go home.

However, the degrees the students will receive will not be recognized by authorities and schools in the mainland, the person said. 

The eight affected schools are Hang Seng Management College, Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Hong Kong College of Technology, Tung Wah College, Hong Kong Nang Yan College of Higher Education, Centennial College, Gratia Christian College, and the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong -- which is run by the Vocational Training Council.

All the institutions were founded one after another in recent years following the Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance.

None of the institutions existed when the agreement with China was signed in 2004.

Peter Yuen, dean of the PolyU-affiliated College of Professional and Continuing Education and chairman of the Federation for Self-financing Tertiary Education, said he was surprised to see the bureau’s letter.

But he said he believes it may be only a technical issue, as his understanding is that it is okay for the self-financing higher education institutions to enroll mainland students as long as their number does not exceed 10 percent of the total.

A spokesman for the Education Bureau also sought to allay concerns, pointing out that all the 20 institutions are listed in an annex to the memorandum on mutual recognition of academic degrees in higher education in the mainland and Hong Kong.

So it should be assumed that the degrees will be recognized in the mainland.

However, the eight institutions named by the bureau should not launch any publicity campaigns to attract mainland students anymore before the Ministry of Education in Beijing gives the institutions official certification, the spokesman said.

Mainland students, if they wish to pursue higher education programs in Hong Kong, have to pay more than the local students.

For instance, for freshmen and second year students, mainlanders have to pay HK$108,300 each year, while the third and fourth year will cost HK$123,450 per year, HK$30,000 to HK$40,000 more than what it would cost local students, according to Hang Seng Management College’s website.

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