Hong Kong Metropolitan University ‘expected to become city’s first university of applied sciences by next month at earliest’

Hong Kong Metropolitan University ‘expected to become city’s first university of applied sciences by next month at earliest’

Education authorities are expected to approve Hong Kong Metropolitan University as the city’s first university of applied sciences (UAS) by next month at the earliest and set aside as much as HK$50 million (US$6.39 million) to promote the benefits of vocational training offered by such institutions, the Post has learned.

A spokeswoman for the university in Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, confirmed on Saturday it had submitted an application to the government.

“We are looking forward to the positive feedback from the government on our application and will input our utmost efforts to facilitate our fulfilment of the application,” she said.

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A rendition of a proposed campus extension. The university has also announced it has obtained government approval to develop a slope of land near its main campus into a new academic complex. Photo: Handout

A source told the Post that the application was submitted after the Lunar New Year holiday ended earlier this week. A panel comprising three to four members hired by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications would review the application, the insider added.

In last October’s policy address, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said the city would develop universities of applied sciences in a bid to change poor perceptions about vocational education. Lee revealed the government would provide a start-up fund to support postsecondary institutions by forming the Alliance of Universities in Applied Sciences.

Another source told the Post that the government would set aside a maximum of HK$50 million to support the creation of the alliance, intending to show students, parents and the community the benefits of vocational and professional education and training.

The government early this month announced a set of procedures and requirements for tertiary institutions to become UASs. It would also offer a HK$5,000 subsidy to full-time students enrolling in applied degree courses who took non-laboratory-based programmes and HK$8,000 in funding to those enrolled in lab-based ones.

Enough to fix manpower crunch? Hong Kong pushes applied sciences universities

According to the procedures, institutions seeking the status must apply to the Education Bureau and demonstrate they have fulfilled the eligibility requirements.

The bureau commissioned the council to carry out the necessary review of applicants, and a source told the Post that in Metropolitan University’s case, the panel would consist of three to four members, coming from both the education sector and outside the field.

“The review is primarily conducted as a paper-based exercise. A site visit may be conducted if deemed essential,” an earlier announcement said, noting that the final decision to award UAS status rested with the bureau.

A spokeswoman for the bureau said it had received one application and would pass it on to the accreditation council as soon as possible. She added the bureau would notify the applicant institution with the result after the process.

One source said the government, the accreditation council and the university would hold a “grand launch” ceremony should the status be granted.

The university on Friday also announced it had obtained government approval to develop a slope of land near its main campus into a new academic complex. The university will next apply for a grant from the government to build the new facilities, with the aim of opening in the third quarter of 2028.

Hong Kong’s future universities of applied sciences face reviews every 6 years

University president Paul Lam Kwan-sing said the new area would provide a range of educational programmes and activities aimed at addressing the needs of an ageing population.

The main 19-storey building will occupy an area of about 3,403 square metres, providing the university with roughly 30,660 square metres of additional gross floor area, equivalent to about 42 per cent of its existing campus space.

Founded in 1989 and formerly called the Open University of Hong Kong, Metropolitan University has about 10,000 students in five schools offering 63 full-time bachelor’s degree programmes.

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