Edinburgh Napier University has confirmed that plans for a campus in Hong Kong have been scrapped after a souring of the city’s political mood towards overseas university branches.
The decision follows the revelation in July last year that the project’s unnamed financial backer had pulled its support for such a “contentious” initiative after locals objected to land being used for university outposts when housing was in such short supply. Minutes of a meeting held on 28 October 2013 by the institution’s governing council reveal that the project was cancelled after an “assessment of the current political landscape in the region”.
Edinburgh Napier had planned to set up its outpost on Hong Kong’s 25-acre Queen’s Hill site, which is earmarked for private branches of overseas universities.
However, there has been discontent in the city about handing over such a large site for this purpose when rents and property prices for locals are among the highest in the world.
A report in the local media earlier this month suggested that the Hong Kong administration could kill off plans for Queen’s Hill to host overseas universities and instead devote the area to housing.
The university minutes add that “funders remained supportive of the university’s ambitions in the region”, but it was also noted that “the international strategy would be reviewed and probably re-stated in due course”. Edinburgh Napier still offers its degrees through a number of partners in Hong Kong. About 3,000 students are enrolled on the university’s programmes in the city.
Following the decision to scrap the campus plans, Andrea Nolan, the vice-chancellor, told staff that it “in no way signals a move away from Hong Kong in terms of our thinking…we are committed to the region, its people and our partners in Hong Kong”.