The Legislative Council Public Accounts Committee found it unacceptable that resources which should have been for local students were used to benefit non-locals under measures of the University Grants Committee to internationalize Hong Kong's universities.
The committee issued a report yesterday to criticize the grants committee for deficiencies in governance and resources use, citing the lack of funded places for local undergraduates.
Among the 15,730 non-local students enrolled in the grants committee-funded programs for 2015-16, as many as 11,893 (76 percent) were from the mainland.
Only 15,000 Secondary Six students were admitted to funded first-year places for 2016-17, while 22,000 students met the general entrance requirements for undergraduate admission.
"The committee expresses great dissatisfaction and finds it unacceptable that resources granted to the universities which could have been used to admit more local students had been used to admit non-local students," the report criticized.
Committee chairman Abraham Shek Lai-him also doubted whether such an approach really serves the purpose of internationalization.
Shek said the 15,000 quota for locals had not been changed since 1997, forcing 7,000 youngsters to study non- funded bachelor or associate degree courses.
"This limits the youngsters' careers and prospects," he said. "It's very unfair to these people. That's why there is so much discontent in society."
He urged chief executive candidates to increase the quota for local students so that they could become "useful soldiers to fight for Hong Kong," and added: "Don't waste money on the Territory-wide System Assessment." The committee urged the grants committee to compile statistics on whether non-local students pursue further studies or take up employment in Hong Kong after graduation.
The report also said there was concern that the university tuition fee had remained unchanged since 1997, while the cost recovery rate dropped. However, members of the committee said they generally disagreed with fee rises, saying education was not about covering the cost.