It has been reported that the eight tertiary institutions funded by the University Grants Committee have all encountered the problem of tight supply of student hostel places. To provide 2 400 new hostel places, The Chinese University of Hong Kong is implementing a project for the construction of five student hostel blocks. However, two of these hostel blocks will not be completed until the middle or the end of next year. In view of this, the university has introduced an interim hostel place scheme in the existing colleges, namely the Chung Chi, New Asia and Shaw Colleges. Under the scheme, three students share a room for two and four students share a room for three so as to provide 340 additional hostel places. Students of these “overcrowded units” are recompensed by a 20% reduction in hostel fees. Regarding the shortage of hostel places for students of tertiary institutions, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it knows the total numbers of students and hostel places provided, as well as the respective numbers of students who had applied for, had been allocated with and had not been allocated with hostel places, and those who gave up their hostel places after places had been allocated to them, in each tertiary institution for the 2012/13 academic year;
(b) whether the Government will conduct surveys on the situations of university students renting accommodations in districts near the universities and the trend of rents of such residential units; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) whether the Government will introduce further measures to ensure that sufficient and good quality hostel places are available for university students and that the aforesaid interim hostel place scheme needs not be implemented again; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim:
(a) According to the information provided by the University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded institutions, student hostel provision figures in the 2012/13 academic year are listed at: http://gia.info.gov.hk/general/201301/09/P201301090317_0317_105304.pdf
The UGC strives to provide its funded institutions with publicly-funded hostel places according to the existing student hostel policy and calculation criteria. The allocation of publicly-funded and privately-funded hostel places to students is a matter of institutional autonomy. However, institutions should ensure that publicly-funded hostel places are allocated only to students of publicly-funded programmes to avoid cross-subsidisation of the self-financing activities of institutions.
(b) and (c) The Administration and the UGC have all along been supporting the UGC-funded institutions in the development of student hostels of prescribed standards in accordance with the well-established policy and criteria for calculating the provision of student hostel places. In addition, efforts have been made to seek the necessary funding support for new hostel projects through the established mechanism and procedures, and where necessary to identify suitable sites outside the campus of the institutions to meet their additional requirements for student hostel places. At present, it is anticipated that a total of some 1 733 and 4 820 publicly-funded hostel places will be provided respectively by student hostels under construction and seven hostel projects under planning.
To optimise the use of limited land resources, apart from identifying new sites for institutions, the Administration and the UGC also encourage them to make use of suitable sites within campus for hostel development or redevelop existing campus buildings into hostels so as to maximise the development and utilisation of their own campus. The Government also encourages institutions to explore various options to meet students’ demand for hostel places. In fact, some institutions are making available hostel places in an innovative manner, such as leasing private residential premises to provide accommodation for students.
We will continue to sustain efforts in providing institutions with publicly-funded hostel places in accordance with policy and have no immediate plans to conduct surveys on the situations of students renting accommodations near campus and the relevant rental levels.