Policy Address to Reserve Funding for the REF, and to Review the Future Positioning of
Self-Financed Post-secondary Institution

PTU News Reporter

Delivering her first Policy Address on 11th October, Chief Executive Carrie LAM responded to several demands made by the HKPTU, including reserving 10 billion as funding for the Research Endowment Fund (REF) under the University Grants Committee, funding the construction of university students living quarters, as well as reviewing the roles of self-finance post-secondary education institutions. Legislative Councillor and HKPTU representative Ip Kin-yuen, welcomes the mentioned policies in aiding the post-secondary education sector, but pointed out at the insufficient support provided to the primary and secondary education sector and the early childhood education sector.

Reserving 10 Billion for the Research Endowment Fund

The government will be allocating 10 billion to the Research Grants Council (RGC) in order to fund research projects of scholars in universities. According to LAM’s address, funds will be injected into RGC upon the completion of the reviewing of funding done by a University Grants Committee task force led by CHUI Lap-chee. HKPTU had been expressing our concern on the impact on research funding due to a drop in investment returns of the REF. The HKPTU receive with appreciation the policy of appropriating funding to the REF, and we hope the government keeps supporting academic research in the long run.

The government will also be injecting 3 billion to the REF, in which the investment income will be provided to all local students reading UGC-funded research postgraduate programs. Students will be provided non-means-tested studentships equivalent to their tuition fees. The HKPTU agrees with the approach to subsidize students in order to encourage students to engage in research and development. We anticipate to see universities providing sufficient opportunities for local students in reading postgraduate programs, such that the imbalanced ratio of local to non local students admitted in postgraduate programs can be alleviated.

Establishing a 12 billion Hostel Development Fund

The government intended also to establish a 12 billion Hostel Development Fund, funding the development of student living quarters in universities. Currently there are 29,206 places in the UGC funded universities, and short of 10,203 places. The establishment of the fund can hopefully expedite the increase in living quarters places, alleviating the shortage of places. The HKPTU support the government’s acceptance to our demands, and we await the details of the Hostel Development Fund to be announced.

Reviewing and Revisiting the positioning of self-financed post-secondary institutions and sub-degree programs

The Policy Address proposed to further review the respective education fields, such including self-financing post-secondary education. The government has long been lacking a comprehensive planning with respect to self-financing post-secondary education and sub-degree education. The HKPTU had repeatedly called for the government to review the position of self-financing post-secondary institutions. Carrie LAM had proposed to revisit their position and to examine the future role of sub-degree programs. A task force chaired by Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung will be established to put forward suggestions to the government concerning the future development of sub-degree programs. The HKPTU is looking forward to the task force to provide substantial suggestions beneficial to the development of post-secondary education.

Promoting Vocational Education

The government proposed to remodel vocational education as professional training education, and intended to promote vocational education as such. Vocational education is currently viewed in a negative light, hindering its development. The government proposed to further promote and introduce vocational education to students and parents through social media. We agree with the approach to further develop vocational education, and deem it necessary to increase funding in order for students with varying aspirations can receive appropriate education. Not only does this nurtures students?professional skills, it provides also manpower to different industries.

Insufficient Support to Primary and Secondary Education and Early Childhood Education

In comparison to policies targeting the post-secondary education sector, policies assisting the primary and secondary education sector and the early childhood education sector is relatively insufficient. In her policy address, Carrie LAM did not respond concretely to the demands of shelving TSA and establishing salary scale for early childhood education professionals. Demands raised by HKPTU, including the improving of class-teacher ratio, upgrading CM teachers with university degree to GM/APSM level, establishing qual qualification, equal pay? were not met with any response from the government.

Demands of HKPTU Measures as mentioned in the Policy Address
Inject funding into the Research Endowment Fund as to offset the drop in income due to the decrease in investment interests. Reserving 10 billion to be allocated to REF upon the completion review conducted by the task force.
Multiple universities are faced by the needs of building students living quarters, but was met with little assistance. It is necessary for the government to provide assistance. A 12 billion Hostel Development Fund had been announced to be established, details of the fund to be announced in the Legislative Council.
Subsidizing students reading self-financed programs at institutions affiliated to UGC funded universities, providing them with a subsidy of 30,000, equivalent to the subsidy received by students reading other self-financed programs. Not mentioned.
Establishing a salary scale for early childhood education professionals Will use the data of the three school years from 2017/18 to 2019/20 as a basis to assess the implications of a salary scale.
To include air-conditioning as standard school facility, and to subsidize the cost of installation, maintenance, and electricity. Providing air-conditioning in all public sector schools. A recurrent Air-Conditioning Grant will be provided to all schools starting form the 2018/19 year for related expenses.