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SCMP Friday, March 9, 2001

Academics laud move to let mainland graduates find work


University heads welcomed the proposal to allow mainland graduates of local universities to seek employment in the SAR, but unions warned it could rob Hong Kong graduates of jobs.
Mainland graduates are prohibited from finding work here. Between 1,000 and 2,000 have completed postgraduate and doctoral studies in Hong Kong universities since the early 1990s.
Last night a senior government source said talks were still going on with mainland authorities but problems were not expected. The source said students would still have to go home first to change their immigration status before seeking work.
He said it would be a waste for Hong Kong if they were not allowed to find jobs here. "We've invested a lot in the education of these students and they all come first in the class."
Seven universities have admitted mainland students to undergraduate courses under a scheme sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club that started two years ago. Each institution takes 20 mainland students a year.
Professor Chan Ka-keung, Dean of the School of Business and Management at the University of Science and Technology, also welcomed the move. He said allowing mainland students to stay in Hong Kong could upgrade human resources and enhance the SAR's competitiveness.
"They are willing to stay in Hong Kong after studying here but they have to go," he said.
"Every time Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa visits our university, we urge him to change the policy."
Professor Chan said many mainland students studying for masters and doctoral degrees in science and business subjects were of high calibre. "If they can stay here, they can stimulate our economic development."
They could also strengthen Hong Kong's economic ties with the mainland, which was a crucial benefit in view of China's imminent entry to the WTO.
But unionist legislator Leung Yiu-chung said the scheme was a serious blow to local graduates. "They have been facing difficulties in finding jobs in the past few years. The influx of mainland students will definitely affect their employment prospects."
Mr Tsang also appealed to the education sector to help improve local students' knowledge of the mainland. "We must help them to understand our extensive economic ties with the mainland."
Meanwhile, an additional $72 million will be devoted over the next two years for practical adult education in an attempt to help people with low educational attainments. The Government will provide subsidies for educational institutions and non-governmental organisations to run courses focusing on language, information technology and interpersonal skills.