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SCMP Friday, March 9, 2001

Law supports importing mainland specialists


Secretary for Education and Manpower Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said a proposal outlined in Wednesday's Budget to import mainland specialists would improve competition in Hong Kong.
Mrs Law said on Thursday that a few hundred mainland students studying at Hong Kong universities posed no threat to local graduates. While SAR students had social skills lacking in their mainland counterparts, the students from China were more diligent and hard-working, she argued.
Mrs Law said education opportunities would not be reduced because there was a 4 per cent limit on overseas students by tertiary institutions - but she did not deny the possibility of raising the percentage.
''I think that local and mainland students have something to learn from each other,'' said Mrs Law.
She said even if the 150 per annum scholarships open to mainland students were increased there would not be a rush of newcomers.
''Not all students who study here want to work here,'' she said.
''A survey we conducted showed that only about 15 per cent of them would be interested in Hong Kong jobs.''
She said mainland specialists taking jobs in Hong Kong would help fill the present shortfall of workers in the job market.
The Government might consider ways to retain them so they did not go to other countries.
''At least we will guarantee that they make the same salary as local graduates,'' she said.
Mrs Law said the bureau would need to liaise with mainland officials before anything could be decided. Many options were being considered.