Hong Kong increases university tuition fees after 27-year freeze

Increase necessary to keep up with cost of delivering degree programmes, government says

June 20, 2024
To celebrate the coming Chinese New Year outdoor shopping stalls place red goods representing luck for sale.
Source: iStock/Derek Yung

Tuition fees at Hong Kong’s universities are set to increase for the first time in over 20 years in order to keep up with rising costs.  

The government announced on 20 June that fees at the island’s eight public universities will increase by an average of 5.5 per cent annually for three years, starting in the 2025-26 academic year. 

Currently students on full-time undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research postgraduate programmes pay HK$42,100 (£4,250) per year. The new policy will see fees rise to HK$49,500 by 2027-28. 

This is the first time tuition fees have increased since 1997. The government said the decision was necessary now as the cost recovery rate – the share of fees that students cover – has fallen from 18 per cent to a low of 12.5 per cent as the price of delivering degree programmes has increased. The fee adjustments will see the rate increase to 13.4 per cent by 2028. 

“Since higher education is different from general public services, as it represents our major investment in Hong Kong’s future, the government has always handled tuition fees adjustments in a prudent manner,” a government spokesperson said. 

“When considering relevant proposals, we have endeavoured to strike a balance between all relevant factors, including the government’s fiscal discipline and providing affordable higher education for students, to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the relevant sector as we continue to drive higher education development proactively.”

Responding to the news, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) said it “understands that an increase in tuition is necessary” given rising costs. 

“We believe that the government has taken into account the state of Hong Kong’s economic development, the affordability of [higher education to] different families, and the government’s commitment to the development of higher education when considering the extent of tuition fee adjustments,” the university said in a statement.

Policymakers emphasised that “no qualified students will be denied access to higher education due to financial difficulties”. 

Means-tested loans are available to eligible students and public universities also offer scholarships, bursaries and loans. 

Hong Kong’s leaders have taken other measures to ensure the sustainability of the island’s universities in recent years as the population shrinks, including allowing institutions to admit twice as many “non-local” students

“The government also continues to support capacity expansion and quality enhancement of higher education through allocating additional resources,” the spokesperson said. “With ample financial support and a stable development environment, the [University Grants Committee]-funded universities have made remarkable achievements over the past two decades.”


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