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Old January 13th, 2010, 02:55 PM   #41
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You know I've always wondered what that nasty wall on top of the hill is since my uncle asked about it last summer. The buildings in the background between the new construction and Langham

Also, what's being built in the background?
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Old January 13th, 2010, 03:17 PM   #42
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I believe you are talking about 華景山莊 (WONDERLAND VILLAS)

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Old January 28th, 2010, 05:52 PM   #43
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On the left :



By simanchan from dchome.
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Old February 1st, 2010, 05:24 AM   #44
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Old March 15th, 2010, 06:05 PM   #45
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See far right :

Source : http://www.flickr.com/photos/clement...7617860385963/

image hosted on flickr
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Old March 19th, 2010, 11:42 AM   #46
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Old April 8th, 2010, 05:50 PM   #47
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PolyU celebrates the topping-out for the Redevelopment of Pak Sui Yuen
2010-03-11
Press Release



The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) today (11 March) hailed the topping-out for the redevelopment of its former staff quarters Pak Sui Yuen in Tsimshatsui East. The new premises, which is scheduled for completion in late 2010, will be home to its world-renowned School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) and a unique teaching hotel. With its distinct design and prominent location by the side of Cross-Harbour Tunnel's Kowloon entrance, the new infrastructure is set to become a new icon in the heart of the city.

The Topping-out Ceremony was held on the redevelopment site with Ir Dr Ng Tat-lun, Deputy Chairman of PolyU Council; Professor Timothy W. Tong, PolyU President; Professor Kaye Chon, Chair Professor and Director of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management; Mr Rocco Yim, Executive Director of Rocco Design Architects Limited; and Ir Dr Stanley Wong, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Paul Y. Engineering Group Limited, as the officiating guests. About a hundred guests, senior management executives and staff of PolyU were also drawn to the Ceremony to witness the precious moment.

Addressing the Ceremony, Professor Tong said the Project marked a new milestone in the history of the University. "Having dedicated premises for our School of Hotel and Tourism Management, I am confident that the School will attract even more world-class teaching staff as well as students from around the world, thus playing a bigger role in helping to meet the industry's demand for quality manpower and expertise," said Professor Tong.

Situated in Tsimshatsui East and adjacent to the PolyU campus, the redeveloped complex houses a teaching and research hotel which is now named Hotel ICON, conference facilities, new staff quarters and School offices. Upon completion of the entire project, the international status of the School as a world-class institution will be further strengthened, thereby facilitating the School's collaboration with the hospitality and tourism industry and education institutions around the world.

PolyU had the foresight to establish its School of Hotel and Tourism Management as one of the best hotel and tourism schools in the world. In view of the development needs of the University and the rising importance of hospitality and tourism education and research, PolyU unveiled a plan to redevelop its former staff quarters Pak Sui Yuen in 2005.

The School is also one of the world-leading providers of hospitality and tourism education. According to a study published in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research in November 2009, it is now ranked No. 2 in the world among hotel and tourism schools based on research and scholarship.

The premises will also house some 30 flats in a separate wing as quarters for senior staff members.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 08:50 AM   #48
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Old April 10th, 2010, 07:34 PM   #49
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Teaching hotel may bite hands that fed it
10 April 2010
SCMP

Rising in the grounds of Polytechnic University in Hung Hom, a 28-storey tower is casting a shadow over the five-star hotels clustered in one of the city's prime tourist districts.

The HK$1.3 billion edifice is a teaching hotel complex that was backed so strongly by hoteliers hungry for well-trained executives that they lobbied the government to waive most of the land premium.

Many are now having second thoughts after it became clear that, rather than the modest teaching facility they had expected, the university was building a hotel to the highest luxury standards that could pose severe competition to them.

Even without the land premium - estimated at HK$250 million to HK$300 million but eventually cut to a nominal HK$1,000 - the Hotel ICON is costing more to build than the average five-star hotel, people with knowledge of the industry say.

"It is not a level playing field and unfair to other hotels, as PolyU didn't have to pay market land premium," a hotelier said.

A source close to PolyU said: "Private hotels helped PolyU as they didn't expect the university would build such an upscale teaching hotel. Those in the neighbourhood of Tsim Sha Tsui East are particularly unhappy to see a potential competitor pose a threat to their business."

Others question why the university is going into the top end when the trend is to more modest hotels catering to mainland visitors and business travellers on reduced budgets.

But the university is confident it is on the right track. "The changing economic and market situations have favoured the development of an upscale hotel. This is also consistent with the growing hotel and tourism industry in Hong Kong," communications director Tracy Ng said in response to inquiries.

PolyU, which suffered a HK$900 million loss last year and has been under fire over the way it operates subsidiary companies, has pumped in more than double the 2005 estimate of HK$500 million for the hotel. When it opens in the first half of next year, it will offer 233 deluxe rooms, 26 suites and three prototype rooms to showcase new hotel technology. All will be equipped with the best facilities, including docking stations for iPods and iPhones. The Club Floor on the top has a restaurant overlooking the harbour, a multifunction dining and meeting room with a wine cellar and kitchen.

The publicly funded university hired British design house Conran and Partners - designers of the Mandarin Grill and Bar at the Mandarin Oriental - to sketch its Club Floor. It has yet to say whether the Club Floor will be for private members only.

The world-class team of designers and architects also included Rocco Yim of Rocco Design Architects, responsible for the Four Seasons in Central, as well as French botanist and vertical garden designer Patrick Blanc, who decorated the Parlement de Bruxelles in Belgium and French embassy in New Delhi.

The complex - redeveloped from PolyU's former staff quarters, Pak Sui Yuen, in Science Museum Road - includes offices for the university's School of Hotel and Tourism Management and about 30 flats in a separate wing for senior university staff.

The university said its approved budget for the redevelopment was HK$1.3 billion and the total construction cost as of early April was about HK$1.1 billion, about a third of the university's fund - cut by a series of deficits from about HK$4.7 billion in 2007 to HK$3.5 billion last year.

PolyU appointed a panel in November 2004 to compile a feasibility study for the development project. Ten months later - after its hotel school was ranked fourth in the world by the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research - it announced the hotel project. Professor Kaye Chon, head of the school, said at the time that the new facility would be a great boost to the school's long-term development and would attract more students and world-class scholars.

The Town Planning Board turned down PolyU's rezoning application in 2006 but approved a blueprint for a 116-metre building the next year.

According to university papers, PolyU revised the redevelopment budget upwards from HK$500 million to not exceed HK$1 billion in May 2007, with one document stating the revised budget was "mainly due to the increase of the property's plot ratio from 7 to 9 and upgrading the quality of the teaching and research hotel from 3+ star to upper 4 star/5 star level". The university council in June 2008 approved the second revision, to HK$1.3 billion, as a result of "the increase in fluctuation cost for contract works caused by high inflation and cost arising from design improvement".

PolyU refused to disclose the latest cost distribution. A council meeting document in mid-August 2008 shows the HK$1.3 billion estimate was split into HK$741 million for the hotel, HK$161 million for conference and training facilities, HK$224 million for teaching and office facilities for the school, and HK$171 million for staff quarters. Based on this estimate breakdown, each room in Hotel ICON cost HK$2.8 million, while the 7,900-square-metre office block cost about HK$28,354 a square metre.

This compares with the average building cost of a five-star room in the third quarter of last year - HK$2.3 million, Centaline Surveyors director James Cheung King-tat said, citing statistics from quantity surveyors.

"The construction costs of standard education institutions and high-end office buildings were about HK$10,600 per square metre and HK$16,200 per square metre, respectively," Cheung said.

The PolyU document shows the HK$1.3 billion does not include furniture and equipment for the school offices and staff quarters.

The university would have had to pay more for the project if the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners had not backed its case for a waiver of the land premium.

"PolyU's former president Poon Chung-kwong told us that the university had to build a teaching hotel to train more hotel executives," federation secretary Michael Li Hon-shing said. "As he said the redevelopment would be of benefit to the entire hotel industry, we agreed to help him and wrote to the government."

But Li said the federation was not told at the time about the scale and details of Hotel ICON.

A source close to the issue said the government initially planned to charge PolyU a land premium of HK$250 million to HK$300 million for the redevelopment. Thanks to the help of the hotel owners' group, a nominal premium of HK$1,000 was approved in November 2008.

Li said a three-star hotel with about 100 rooms would be more appropriate for teaching purposes.

"Mainland tourists are now the major momentum to support Hong Kong's hotel market," Li said. "Mainland tours usually go to the low-end hotels, which charge about HK$300 per night. Individual mainland tourists at most choose medium-priced hotels for an average room rate of about HK$600.

"Business travellers are more cost-cautious than before. Now they would not mind staying at four-star or boutique hotels. As demand for five-star hotels is weaker than the prime time in 1997, most new hotels, such as JW Marriott Courtyard (Connaught Road West), are built to tailor to this new business development."

As the latest four-star boutique hotels only have one or two restaurants providing basic services, they employ fewer staff than the five-star hotel chains. As a result, the city's average staff-to-room ratio has fallen to 0.7 staff per room from about 1 to 1. This meant it was important for the hotel school to train students in multiple roles, rather than just boosting the number of students.

PolyU projected in June 2008 that its teaching hotel could charge an average room rate of HK$1,820 - higher even than the harbour-view rooms of some neighbouring five-star hotels, such as the Harbour Grand Kowloon and Intercontinental Grand Stanford, and about the level charged by the Kowloon Shangri-La at Easter.

In the February edition of the hotel school's magazine, PolyU said Hotel ICON would hire about 350 permanent staff in the second quarter of this year and 50 student interns. Another 100 interns would be hired when the hotel started operating.

In its business projection in 2008, PolyU estimated the hotel could reach 80 per cent occupancy in its second year and would be able to increase room rates 3 per cent a year.

"All profits made from Hotel ICON will be ploughed back to the university," a PolyU spokesman said.

Li, of the hotel owners' federation, said the city now had more than 60,000 hotel rooms, double the number of 10 years ago, and would add 7,000 rooms in the next two years.

Half the PolyU redevelopment is funded by the university, the balance by a bank loan. PolyU declined to reveal details, but Post inquiries found the university signed a HK$700 million facility with the Bank of East Asia in June 2009. The signing came nine months after a run on the bank and shortly after a consultant to the bank, Chan Tze-ching, was appointed a PolyU council member in May 2009.

A council meeting document shows Chan declared his interest and refrained from voting on the loan.
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Old April 21st, 2010, 05:48 PM   #50
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PolyU to face HK$1.67b deficit from projects
20 April 2010
SCMP

Polytechnic University will face an operating deficit of HK$1.67 billion in the three years to June 2012 because of several development projects.

According to an internal document circulated among department heads and seen by the South China Morning Post, the university is facing an unprecedented challenge as it is estimated to post a deficit of HK$640 million for the 2009-10 financial year, HK$540 million for 2010-11 and HK$490 million for 2011-12.

As tuition fees, public grants and other income are not enough to cover its operating costs, PolyU forecast its general development and reserve fund will drop from HK$490 million in the past fiscal year to HK$270 million this year and to HK$150 million in 2011-12.

PolyU has been under fire since last month after key managers were found to have been paid for directorships in some of its 38 subsidiary companies. It was also criticised after it booked a record HK$900 million deficit last year, mostly from an investment loss of more than HK$500 million.

As a result, its general fund was cut from about HK$4.7 billion in 2007 to HK$3.5 billion last year.

Dr Lam Pun-lee, an associate professor in the school of accounting and finance, said yesterday university president Professor Timothy Tong had admitted to staff that the university would be "broke" if the management did not carry out emergency measures.

Lam, who has been critical of the university's administration, was speaking at a forum organised by the PolyU Students' Union to discuss the university's governance. He recalled a staff meeting at which Tong pleaded with various university departments to slash their operating costs.

"Our two community colleges owe the government more than HK$800 million, and the nearly completed teaching hotel is backed by a construction loan of HK$700 million," he said. "These two projects alone have already brought us HK$1.5 billion in debt. How about other ongoing development projects such as the Innovative Tower, the phase eight campus construction, the latest student quarters, as well as other expansion plans in Shenzhen?"

Lam urged his fellow panellists at the forum, executive vice-president Nicholas Yang and vice-president Professor Thomas Wong, to give the public an answer.

PolyU has been aggressively expanding since the tenure of its former president Poon Chung-kwong, who retired in December 2008. It opened two campuses - in Hung Hom Bay and in West Kowloon - for its self-financed Hong Kong Community College in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

These offer associate degree and higher diploma programmes for students who cannot gain admittance to any Hong Kong universities. PolyU borrowed HK$882.7 million from the government's Start-up Loan Scheme for the campus construction.

The university is also redeveloping its former staff quarters in Tsim Sha Tsui East into a five-star teaching hotel complex. Although it only had to pay a nominal HK$1,000 for land premium, the hotel complex - a 262-room hotel, office and teaching area for its School of Hotel and Tourism Management, and about 30 units in a separate wing as senior staff quarters - is estimated to cost HK$1.3 billion.

Innovative Tower is another controversial project built on its former swimming pool and recreational facilities. Wong said the government would bear 80 per cent of the cost of the HK$700 million project.

"We have to pay the remaining 20 per cent as we would like to build two extra floors for our design school students so that everyone of them will have their own design desks for their entire four-year programme."

Wong said the phase eight campus development and phase three student hostel were both approved and paid for by the government so as to accommodate more students for the 3+3+4 education structure which will start in 2012.

Wong repudiated Lam's warning that the university was on the verge of bankruptcy. "Although we have to pay for all these development projects, we will still have HK$1.5 billion cash in hand by 2012," he said.

The PolyU finance office projected that by then the university would have about HK$1.4 billion in outstanding loans from the community college and teaching hotel projects.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 10:13 AM   #51
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PolyU can't go on hiding plans under the pillow
11 April 2010
South China Morning Post

When businessmen claim unfair competition, they are usually driven by self-interest. Owners of tourist hotels upset over future competition from a new luxury hotel in the prime tourist area of Tsim Sha Tsui East are no exception. What sets this example apart is that taxpayers have a legitimate interest, too.

The project is a teaching hotel built by Polytechnic University on a former staff-quarters site at Hung Hom, redeveloped after payment of a token land premium of HK$1,000. The background adds to questions about the transparency of the business and financial management of the university, a publicly funded institution, after it reported a loss last year of nearly HK$1 billion.

Initially the hotel had the strong support of the industry to meet the demand for well-trained executives and staff. The Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners even lobbied the government in support of PolyU's request to waive a land premium estimated at HK$250 million to HK$300 million. But the hoteliers say they were not told at the time about the scale and details of Hotel ICON. They were expecting a more modest teaching facility, not a luxury 28-storey tower near their five-star hotels. University papers show that the redevelopment budget was revised from HK$500 million to HK$1 billion in 2007 after an increase in the plot ratio and an upgrade from a three-star-plus to a five-star hotel. It was revised again to HK$1.3 billion a year later to cover inflation and construction cost increases.

The new hotel threatens to provide tough competition at the high end of the market if the federation is right that the trend is towards more modest accommodation catering to the middle market of mainland visitors and cost-conscious business travellers.

The university, however, says changing economic and market conditions and the growth of the hotel and tourism industries favour the development of an upscale property. It is to be hoped it is right, given the top-of-the-range rates projected for its 233 deluxe rooms and 26 suites. Moreover the university is going it alone, unlike Chinese University of Hong Kong, which partnered with New World Development to build a four-star hotel on its campus in the New Territories.

The PolyU authorities need to restore confidence in their judgment after eye-watering losses on investments in risky stocks and derivatives, and accumulated losses of HK$332 million over five years from numerous companies and subsidiaries governed by directors drawn from the ranks of its most senior staff. It may be true that no one could have predicted the financial crisis, but questions remain about why a publicly funded university which would normally maintain a conservative investment portfolio should have switched to high-risk financial instruments that even some bankers did not understand.

A teaching hotel is to a university's school of hotel and tourism management what a teaching hospital is to a medical school. It is also important to tourism's increasing role as a pillar of Hong Kong's economy. The head of the institution's tourism school, Professor Kaye Chon, has hailed the new teaching hotel as a great boost to the school's long-term development and one that will attract more students and world-class scholars.

We wish it every success. But confidence in the university's fulfilment of its mission and its management of public money would be enhanced if it functioned in a more transparent manner in future.
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Old May 25th, 2010, 05:41 PM   #52
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Old May 25th, 2010, 05:49 PM   #53
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That came up fast. Wonder why they didn't try to maximize the side facing the harbour?
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Old June 10th, 2010, 05:46 PM   #54
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6/5



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Old July 3rd, 2010, 04:29 PM   #55
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 06:26 PM   #56
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Tourism students learn on the job
16 June 2010
South China Morning Post

Practical work experience while studying is always beneficial, but this is especially true for students in tourism-related fields.

"People in the industry always emphasise experience is more important than academic learning in this field," says Gloria Chan, a student at Polytechnic University (PolyU), who is in her first year of a master of philosophy degree in tourism, focusing on sustainable tourism on the Silk Road.

Opportunities for work experience are available through the universities, whether through internships here and abroad, or projects that take students out of the classroom.

Industry professionals may request student help for their events. Requests come from professional event organisers, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Hong Kong Tourism Board and members of the Hong Kong Travel Industry Council.

Students helped arrange transport during the Olympic equestrian competition in 2008 and the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in 2005, says Dennis Wong, senior lecturer in the department of hotel, service and tourism studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Haking Wong) (HKIVE), which has 600 students.

While committing to work at an event is optional, students may partially fulfil some academic requirements since the activities are relevant to their particular area of study.

"The students enjoy helping at different types of events while getting a variety of industrial experience," he says.

Helping at tourism industry events assists students in their career development, says Dr Thomas Bauer, assistant professor at PolyU's school of hotel and tourism management. "We encourage it," he adds.

Projects that are part of a curriculum also help to provide practical experience. One such project was the organisation of last year's International Convention and Expo Summit (ICES) at PolyU.

The expo brings together people in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) industry for seminars, and the presentation of research papers. It has been co-organised on a rotating basis in the region since 2003 by PolyU's school of hotel and tourism management and the Singapore campus of the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada in the United States. Last year's event was the first time an international summit was planned, organised, managed and evaluated by 30 students from PolyU. It was part of a "learning by doing" special-event project, spanning two semesters, says Chan, who was the event's project chief.

"Organising ICES 2009 not only helped us explore our potential, but also provided us with opportunities to apply our knowledge and practise our skills in real-life settings," she says, adding that it was "quite an experiment". The event attracted 140 people from academia and the Mice sector from 12 countries. PolyU has about 1,800 students studying at its school of hotel and tourism management.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 10:00 PM   #57
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PolyU denies reports of insolvency
8 September 2010
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is "in no danger of bankruptcy" and "feels sorry" about what it dismissed as the latest misleading press reports about the school.

The school's statement was made at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ) reported on Monday and Tuesday that Hotel ICON, built by PolyU, carries a total debt load of HK$1.7 billion and predicted that the university "will go bankrupt at any time".

Nicholas W Yang, executive vice president at PolyU, said the two reports are "seriously exaggerated and incorrect". According to him, PolyU's balance sheet showed a long-term debt of around HK$1 billion at the close the financial year on June 30, 2010. That includes an HK$900 million government loan, which is solely dedicated to the projects of Hong Kong Community College, as well as HK$116 million from an HK$700 million line of credit, which is earmarked for the Hotel ICON projects.

Yang cited the university's HK$1.3 billion cash position and HK$1 billion net current assets, in stating "there is no problem in paying back debt."

PolyU suffered an HK$900 million net loss during its last financial year, but Yang said this year's result will show a net gain.

HKEJ also reported that PolyU will hire the Hyatt Group as the operator for Hotel ICON. The university also denied that report. According to Yang, Hotel ICON will be in a league of its own in the region. He said the closest comparison would be to the hotel operated by Cornell University in the US.

Yang said the purpose of Hotel ICON will focus on developing world-class talent in hotel and tourism management for Hong Kong.

"We have set up our own team to run the project, actually other operators cannot do it," he said.

The original cost of Hotel ICON, according to Yang, was estimated at HK$500 million in 2004. In the following years, it was adjusted upward to HK$1.3 billion. The increase is attributed to project expansion, new requirements set down by the government and inflation of material costs since the project was inaugurated.

The rating of the hotel was increased from 3-star to 5-star, which also affected the cost. Yang believes that the hotel's facilities must match the stated purpose: to train world-class talent.

"PolyU has no intention to enter malicious competition with other hotels. We have consulted owners and operators in the industry, who supported our training and teaching with the hotel," Yang said.

As to payback of the loans, he estimated that Hotel ICON will be similar to other hotels, which usually take around 20 years to break even.

Hotel ICON is located at Tsim Sha Tsui East. It has 262 rooms, one conference center and teaching facilities. It topped off in March this year and will open in the spring of 2011.
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Old October 2nd, 2010, 03:10 PM   #58
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Campus co-teaching blurs funding lines
Concern that tax dollars are being used to educate private students at universities

30 August 2010
South China Morning Post

A few things set Kennus Chow Wing-yan apart from her fellow students at Polytechnic University, chief among them HK$32,500 a year.

That is the difference between the tuition fees paid by Chow, a self-funded student who pays HK$75,000 a year for her tourism management degree course, and the HK$42,500 paid by her government-subsidised classmates.

Chow is among an unknown number of self-financed students who study alongside subsidised students, raising concerns that tax dollars are being used to educate private students, possibly diluting government-funded teaching resources.

These are among the issues that the University Grants Committee and even the PolyU management are looking into - including the possibility that universities are using government subsidies to teach the paying students and then pocketing the difference.

Another difference is that while most of the subsidised students came straight from school, Chow, whose examination results were not good enough to earn her a government-funded place, came via an associate degree programme, which means she already knows the basics while the others are starting from scratch.

She does not think it is fair. "It would be better to have us separated, as the two groups of students have a different mode and pace of learning," she said. "It's a bit of a waste of time and money to study the same things again."

Grants committee chairwoman Laura Cha Shih May-lung also thinks the situation is unfair but for a different reason.

"We are concerned {hellip} how much money is being used to cross-subsidise the self-financing programmes of our UGC-funded institutions," she said at a recent forum, adding that the practice could dilute teaching quality.

Meanwhile, PolyU management has investigated how its school of hotel and tourism management, which runs Chow's course, came to co-teach the two groups of students when it is against university policy.

In all, there were 14,000 full-time and part-time self-financed students pursuing undergraduate degrees in eight local tertiary institutions in 2009-10, accounting for 20 per cent of the total student population.

While some run separate programmes for self-financed students, three of them put all students in the same class for some courses, saying there is a need to open more places in certain academic programmes and that the practice is more efficient. Lumping the two groups together can help universities save money by requiring fewer classrooms, facilities and fewer academic staff.

Besides PolyU, University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University have co-teaching programmes.

Speaking at a consultation forum on a review of higher education in April, Cha said co-teaching was unfair to publicly funded students.

"I certainly agree {hellip} that it is affecting [teaching quality] and it is unfair," she said.

"We are looking into it. We will ask for more transparency. We will ask for public accountability. It will take time but it is something that has not escaped our attention," she said.

At the same forum, Colin Lucas, convenor of the committee's higher education review group and chairman of the British Library, said it was undesirable to see cross-subsidy between the two groups of students.

"Whether it is the review group or whether it is the UGC, none of us had any desire to see the provision of publicly funded higher education being diluted by the self-financing programmes." He said it was quite wrong for tax dollars to be used in this way.

PolyU has 5,369 self-financed undergraduate students studying in 30 programmes in the 2009-10 academic year, about 35 per cent of the total number of undergraduate students at the university. It received HK$220 million in tuition fees from these students, or 20 per cent of its total tuition income.

A PolyU spokesman said it would not put students of different funding sources to study together. But a check found that at least three programmes run by the school of hotel and tourism management - hotel management, tourism management and convention management - allowed co-teaching.

Professor Walter Yuen Wai-wah, the university's vice-president of academic development, said its official policy did not allow departments to do so, unless individual students had approval.

He said the university regularly checked the financial reports of different departments to ensure there was no cross-subsidy.

After an internal meeting with the school, Yuen said co-teaching was allowed in some elective subjects with no more than 5 to 10 per cent of self-funded students.

But Chow said she was also attending core subjects with government-funded students, and the number of self-funded students was more than 10 per cent.

A UGC spokeswoman said co-teaching was allowed as long as the quality of the programmes was sustained.

Asked why there was a difference between the policies of some universities and UGC policy, she said the committee respected universities' autonomy.

Lingnan University said that although it did have co-teaching, there was no cross-subsidy. A HKU spokeswoman said it factored in the cost of teaching resources, administration and overheads to ensure there was no cross-subsidy. She said only 2 per cent of the undergraduate students were self-financed.

Education sector legislator Cheung Man-kwong said it was ridiculous for the UGC and universities to have different policies on the same matter.

"The UGC should have a clear policy on whether universities can allow self-financed students to take government-subsidised courses, and, if allowed, to clarify the maximum number of such students to ensure the teaching quality is not affected because of too many students," he said.

Fung Wai-wah, president of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, said the grants committee was turning a blind eye to the selffinanced programmes.

"It knows it should increase the number of undergraduate degree places to meet the demand. But the government cannot allocate more money to subsidise more places. So the UGC just lets the institutions run self-financed programmes," he said.

"But it is only a compromise means of solving the problem. The ideal way is to increase the number of government-funded undergraduate degree places."
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Old October 26th, 2010, 05:06 PM   #59
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One rule won't fit all
23 September 2010
SCMP

With the four-year university education system just round the corner, the University Grants Committee's proposed funding scheme - to be introduced in 2012 - appears to be flawed.

The scheme has two parts. Under the first one, 7.5 per cent of funding to local universities is to be taken away and put into a central pool. Universities can get the funds back (and perhaps more) if their newly proposed academic programmes win the hearts and minds of UGC bureaucrats. The downside is that universities will only propose popular courses - such as tourism and cultural-facility management - that ensure an intake of students. Universities won't consider programmes that provide medium- and long-term benefits to Hong Kong.

In short, the new academic programmes will be very market-oriented. What about philosophy and literature courses? Well, I am not too optimistic that they will be approved.

Some citizens and bureaucrats may ask what is wrong with having more market-oriented courses like business management and derivatives trading. But educators should be more far-sighted. They should consider what will be good for Hong Kong in 10 to 20 years' time, to help it maintain its viability.

The second part of the funding scheme shows UGC's sloppiness in pushing a "one policy for all" approach. Funding will be divided into two parts: 77 per cent for teaching and 23 per cent for research. Departments that do not produce adequate research papers will, in the worst-case scenario, lose 23 per cent of their funding. The result could be one-quarter of a teaching staff being laid off.

No academic or teaching staff would argue openly that they don't need to do research, as research improves their teaching quality and benefits students. But this across-the-board approach appears to have forgotten the history and different roles of local universities. The University of Hong Kong, Chinese University and the University of Science and Technology are regarded as research universities. Polytechnic University and City University focus on more practical subjects (as they formerly were polytechnics) while Lingnan University and Hong Kong Baptist University emphasise liberal arts education and whole-person development. The Institute of Education, which is not a university yet, trains people to become teachers.

Openly, all universities want to be research universities, and don't want to admit that they are, say, a teaching-oriented university. But in practice, some are not well equipped for research, and they will need time to transform themselves into research-oriented, higher-education institutions. This "one policy for all" approach needs to be revised.

The UGC may consider two ways to improve the new funding system. One is to allow different academic departments to submit reports arguing that they are not research-oriented, and that the 23 per cent portion should be reduced to 10-15 per cent, so they won't be hurt so much when the axe falls in 2012. Programmes such as creative media, visual arts, filmmaking and journalism aim to produce professionals to work in various industries, not researchers. And some faculty members are experienced industry people who don't join universities to do research.

I know this might mean more work for UGC bureaucrats. But this flexible approach would serve Hong Kong better.

The other improvement in the new system would be to relax the definition of research. It's not difficult for a science professor to publish an article in an academic journal. But a teacher may publish a book on English learning, Chinese poetry or a textbook on news writing, etc., and such work don't count as research. The UGC should form a panel to consider counting as research publications other than those printed in academic journals. Again, this would mean more work for the UGC.

The question is: if the system is flawed, why not improve it before it is too late?

Victor Fung Keung is a Hong Kong-based commentator on education and political issues
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Old October 27th, 2010, 11:37 AM   #60
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