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SCMP Friday, March 9, 2001
Broader talent pool an asset, not a liability

ANALYSIS by WONG YUK-SHAN

The Government has finally come to terms with what is required to compete in the global market for professional talent with its U-turn allowing mainland students studying in Hong Kong to find jobs in the SAR after graduation.
Since the early 1990s, nearly 2,000 mainland students have completed postgraduate programmes in Hong Kong's universities. But this young talent - whose studies were financed by taxpayers' money - were not allowed to remain in Hong Kong and contribute to its social and economic development. Their skills simply went back to the mainland or overseas.
The United States and Singapore are trying their best to attract overseas professionals to boost economic development. Singapore, our main competitor, has relaxed its policy to lure talent from the mainland.
That is why I am delighted to hear Mr Tsang saying officials were considering allowing mainland students to stay after graduation.
Some members of the public may fear that these students will take jobs away from Hong Kong people. But that anxiety is groundless.
These mainland students can generate extra job opportunities when they are allowed to work in Hong Kong. Given their talent, they are our assets, not a liability.
The Government should also be praised for its decision to raise the maximum tax deduction for self-education expenses under salaries tax from $30,000 to $40,000.
Professor Wong Yuk-shan is the vice-president of City University and a member of the subgroup for the Development of Post-Secondary Education under the Education Commission.